Committee hears Jefferson City school demographics study

The Jefferson City School District’s enrollment has increased steadily since 2007, according to a district demographics study completed by Business Information Services of Kansas City.

“We think it’s because the birth rate in the western half of the district has increased,” said Preston Smith, principal owner of the firm.

He told the district’s long range facility planning committee Tuesday that the Jefferson City district has the lowest public school enrollment of all of the districts the firm has studied.

Over the course of the next nine months, the planning committee will use the study of the district’s demographics and enrollment projections to create a long term facility plan. The committee will submit the plan to the school board in July 2014.

Key findings of the demographics study include:

• During the past 40 years, population in the district has dispersed beyond the city’s core.

• Among the area districts, only Blair Oaks has had a higher enrollment growth.

• The Jefferson City district has erratic kindergarten enrollment.

• The private school enrollment in the district is 28 percent, the highest the firm has seen.

• When employment in the area decreases, enrollment in the district’s schools increases.

• The study projects solid and steady enrollment growth.

• The high school is overcrowded. Enrollment is at 1,812 students and projected capacity is 1,665 students.

Kenny Southwick, an educational planner for ACI Boland, said the committee will use these findings, as well as other findings of the study, to devise a plan for the school board.

“We will work to come up with a consensus and recommendation in the best interest of the students and the committee,” Southwick said. “The diverse opinions of the committee will be what will make it work.”

Tuesday evening, the committee used the findings of the study to determine implications the demographics will have on the district in the future. Members also devised a list of other key data points of the district that they would like to see.

Southwick said the ultimate goal is for the school board to adopt the committee’s final long term facility plan in July.

“The goal is for it to be a plan that people can pick up and move to action immediately,” Southwick said.

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