School board tours revived South

The Jefferson City Board of Education toured the renovations at South Elementary School, prior to convening for its regular monthly meeting Monday night.

The South School renovation project cost the district $1.9 million.

With the exception of the tiled hallways and cork bulletin boards in the classrooms, nearly all surfaces in the buildings were torn out and replaced with newer, more modern materials.

First opened nearly 60 years ago, the school underwent a significant addition about four years ago that upgraded its library/media room. But — until last summer — most of the building showed signs of its 1954 origin.

Facilities Director Bob Weber credited the school’s faculty and staff for working hard throughout the construction period, even though some had to move their entire classroom furnishings more than once. “They never complained one time,” Weber said.

He noted that installing central heat and air in the older building was the largest expense. Since air-conditioning was added in rooms where none existed before, Weber is not expecting a large boost in energy efficiency.

“We’re hoping it be about even. But we’re bringing in fresh air, which improves the indoor air quality so much,” he added.

This is the third school renovated under a district plan to undertake one major project every year. Belair, North and South Elementary Schools have been renovated in previous years. West Elementary is scheduled for next summer, and Weber said the planning for that project has already started.

In other business, the board:

• Read a letter from outgoing board member Marie Peoples, who recently transferred to a new job in Flagstaff, Ariz. In her remarks, Peoples said it was a “pleasure and an honor” to serve on the school board. The open seat could be filled by a vote of the board’s members, or it could be left vacant until the April election.

• Heard a report from Director of Food Services Terri Ferguson, who said about 53 percent of the students who attend school in Jefferson City qualify for free and reduced-price lunches. To qualify for a free lunch, a family of four can earn no more than $30,615 annually.

Ferguson said about 7,067 students on average participate daily in the district’s lunch program.

The food service program is also operating in the black, compared to previous years. Five years ago the district subsidized the school meal program with an additional $560,000; last school year the program cleared $95,000 in the black.

Chief Financial Officer Jason Hoffman said reducing the amount of that annual subsidy means more funding will be available for classroom instruction.

• Learned the Long Range Facilities Planning Committee will meet on Oct. 22 to learn more about the school district’s demographics. The district has grown by about 40 students this school year to a total enrollment of 8,919 students this fall.

• Heard board member reports from the Missouri School Boards’ Association’s annual conference, where the JCPS Southwest Early Childhood Center earned a second place recognition for its high-quality services to small children.

• Appointed Chief Financial Officer Jason Hoffman and Superintendent Brian Mitchell to serve on the city’s Tax Increment Financing Commission. The group will be examining a TIF proposal at Capital Mall. The group is scheduled to meet this evening.

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