JCPS panel still cramming for October presentation

Attention shifts to upgrades on elementary schools

A committee charged with devising a future facilities plan for the Jefferson City school district continued to work Thursday night on how to present its ideas to the public.

The Long Range Facilities Planning Committee pushed back the date for its big reveal by two weeks to accommodate a scheduling conflict. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Oct. 21 at a location still being determined.

The group has been working since last fall with the architectural firm ACI Boland to devise a 20-year plan for expansion of facilities. So far, the architectural firm has billed the district $88,874 for its work, which has consisted of drafting proposals to solve the district’s space needs, crunching numbers and facilitating meetings.

Of that amount, $33,635 has been paid to Michael Kautz, an architect with the Kansas City-based firm; $18,652 has been paid to Kenny Southwick, another employee who has facilitated the meetings; and $11,331 has been paid for miscellaneous reimbursable expenses.

For several months the group has weighed three main ideas for solving overcrowding issues at the high school.

The first plan — Option A — calls for a stem-to-stern renovation of the existing 609 Union St. campus. Option B calls for renovating the high school and building a new senior high on land east of Missouri 179. The third plan — Option C — considers building two new high schools in town.

The committee plans to recommend Option B as the most feasible, but they also will share information about the other two ideas to help listeners understand the progression of their thinking.

Option B calls for spending $40 million to renovate the 609 Union St. campus and $76.4 million to build a new high school, for a total cots of $116.4 million.

The group also will present a series of proposals for improvements at the elementary and middle school levels.

Their ideas include building an East Side Elementary School for $13.8 million, and renovating and expanding Callaway Hills Elementary School for $5.5 million.

In all, the group could recommend $135.7 million in total constructions costs. The total tax increase required to raise that money would be 87 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

On Thursday, the group also heard suggestions for $4 million in upgrades to the district’s safety and security net.

The ideas include allocating $1 million for “access control,” which would install a computer system to control the district’s many doors, and $1.53 million for “security vestibules,” which would construct double-door entrances with transaction windows at the schools that don’t have them yet.

Kautz said installing security vestibules is possible at seven of the elementary schools, but Thorpe Gordon Elementary School presents a challenge. At that school, he suggested an intercom with video access.

Other upgrades include: $200,000 for burglar alarms, $400,000 for video surveillance equipment, $764,000 for exterior lights, $100,000 for playground fencing and $40,000 for bollards.

October’s meeting is intended to share the committee’s work with the public. Organizers plan to include time for people to engage in small group discussions, and report out their main ideas and questions. For people who want to communicate ideas about the district that aren’t directly related to facilities expansion, comment cards will be available.

“Hopefully we’ll have enough committee members to spread out and help facilitate the conversations,” Southwick said. “It’s important that the people who come have time to listen, understand and have an opportunity to ask questions.”

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