A proposal to leave Jefferson City Public Schools' attendance boundary lines as they are — except as it relates to where Thorpe Gordon Elementary School students attend middle and high school — is a frontrunner among the group evaluating what to recommend to the Board of Education.
JCPS officials on Friday shared the complete results of the most recent vote of the district's boundary line committee on options for change, but the vote won't necessarily decide what course the school district follows.
JCPS Chief of Learning Brian Shindorf led Friday morning's monthly "Coffee with Larry," as Superintendent Larry Linthacum was on vacation.
Shindorf said 22 of 32 boundary line committee members voted — 11 at the committee's last anticipated meeting July 19, and the other 11 by email after the last meeting.
JCPS formed the committee last year to work with a demographer to examine possible options to adjust some middle school boundary lines to try to ensure equity in enrollment and poverty levels between Jefferson City High School and Capital City High School once CCHS is open to students from Thomas Jefferson Middle School.
The committee ultimately narrowed its choices to three options to put forth to the public for feedback before the July 19 meeting.
Of the 11 members who attended that meeting, six voted in favor of the option to keep all Cedar Hill Elementary School students together for the duration of their K-5 education — as opposed to sending students who live in an area near CCHS to South Elementary School.
Going to South would mean those students would go on to Thomas Jefferson and then CCHS, as opposed to Lewis and Clark and then JCHS.
Under the majority-favored option, the Cedar Hill students who live in the area near CCHS still would go to Thomas Jefferson and CCHS, though.
Four committee members voted at the meeting to make no changes to the district's boundary lines, except for having all Thorpe Gordon students go to Lewis and Clark then JCHS, instead of splitting middle schools as they currently do — and that change is in all three publicly proposed boundary adjustment options.
Other committee members' online votes were somewhat the opposite, though. Five members favored no changes; two opted to keep all Cedar Hill students together through elementary school; and four favored sending Cedar Hill students near CCHS to South.
After the votes were tallied, the option to make no boundary line changes except for reuniting Thorpe Gordon's students for middle and high school is in the lead, with nine votes of 22.
Linthacum said July 19 that sending some Cedar Hill students to Thomas Jefferson but keep them together K-5 was the best option and had received the least negative comments.
"It isn't for the committee to decide which of those scenarios are going to happen," Shindorf said Friday, adding the next step will be for Linthacum to take the committee's work to the Board of Education.
A discussion of boundary lines is on the agenda for the board's next meeting, scheduled at 6 p.m. Aug. 13, which means it will be open to public comments during the meeting's open forum session.
The board likely won't make a final decision until at least September.
"It will be up to them whether or not they use these three (proposed boundary line change options), if they ask for more information, if they ask Dr. Linthacum to narrow it down," Shindorf said.
High school construction update
The Architects Alliance's Principal Architect Cary Gampher shared progress Friday on the high school projects that prompted the proposed boundary line changes.
Renovations on the top floor of the east wing of JCHS will be done by the time students arrive, Gampher said. The next renovation phases will be the first floor of Nichols Career Center; the east and north side science areas of JCHS; the gym, locker rooms, office and cafeteria; then the second floor of Nichols.
Construction of the enclosed connector between JCHS and Nichols will start in October and happen simultaneously with the renovation work, he said.
At CCHS, the goal is to start work on the roof by Thanksgiving or Christmas, Gampher said.
He and JCPS Director of Secondary Education Gary Verslues also gave an update on the CCHS athletic fields.
The $51.1 million final bid package approved last month for CCHS detailed that the football practice field would have a track, turf and lights, but there would be grass instead of turf on the baseball and soccer fields and no lights for those fields or the tennis courts.
Gampher said Friday the football practice field will be marked as a soccer field, and favorable bids have come in and contracts are being negotiated to include the other fields in the project.
Nabholz Construction Project Manager Mitchell Fuemmeler said that means the soccer field and infield of the baseball field will be turfed and the baseball outfield will be seeded, still with no lights planned for the practice facility.
The district's goal is to get as many playing surfaces game-ready as possible, "minus the locker rooms, restrooms, concession stands" — all depending on what construction costs come to, Verslues said. There will be lights for the soccer field at CCHS, and that football field would have other uses for physical education classes and band practices, he added.