Jefferson City Public Schools reported late Thursday afternoon that the first day of school went smoothly, despite renovations underway at Jefferson City High School.
Renovations at JCHS began in May and are expected to continue into January 2020.
Classroom trailers sit in the parking lot on the north side of the high school, meaning students will have to find parking elsewhere while the trailers that were installed over the summer are used to accommodate classes displaced by renovation work inside the building.
JCPS Superintendent Larry Linthacum said students are "adjusting accordingly and taking spots. They have to walk a little farther, but they're being patient." Linthacum said he visited all of the district's schools on Thursday.
He said students with cars at JCHS are just having to arrive at school a little earlier than usual, and staff are being flexible for the first few days as students adjust — the school's start time has not changed.
"There was a little bit of a bottleneck there at the roundabout of Stadium, Leslie and Lafayette that hasn't been there in the past," Linthacum said of traffic where Stadium Boulevard, Leslie Boulevard and Lafayette Street meet.
He added students found spots to park along those streets — toward the direction of Moreau Heights Elementary School on Leslie — along with other area roads such as Jackson Street.
He said The Linc and the Boys & Girls Club of Jefferson City have also agreed to let JCHS students use their lots for overflow parking as needed, and students can search for spots at those locations first.
"We haven't told students 'don't go to The Linc until all the spots are full on Leslie,'" he said.
Inside JCHS, Linthacum added the flow of students went well, and he gave credit to Principal Bob James and his staff.
JCPS Director of Communications Ryan Burns encouraged visitors to the high school to park in the visitor lot off of Jay Drive — only accessible by road from the north side of the building now, because the Union Street entrance to Jay Drive is fenced off.
From the visitor lot to the north, people can still walk to the usual main entrance, Burns said. She added student entrances remain the same as in the past.
The Architects Alliance's Principal Architect Cary Gampher shared earlier this month that construction of the enclosed connector between JCHS and Nichols Career Center would start in October.
Families dropping off their children at JCHS can do so wherever they feel comfortable, Burns said — in the same area off Lafayette Street where buses drop off, on Jay Drive at the visitor lot, or at the bottom of the hill on Union Street.
Linthacum said on his building tours Thursday, he noticed that "our buildings are doing a great job of welcoming students." Principals are expected to welcome their students each day, he added.
Linthacum served as a crossing guard in the morning at West — something he's done for a few years. He said he enjoys the energy of the first day as students and staff see people they might not have seen over the summer.
He said he talked to as many staff members as he could at the middle and high schools without disrupting class, and he complimented the district's maintenance and custodian staff for making the buildings look good.
He was not aware of any building or busing issues.
Burns said, "We've had some minor bus delays, but nothing out of the ordinary at this point."
Linthacum said he will serve as a bus monitor in the coming days to help make sure students get off at the correct stops and that adults are waiting for kindergarten students.
He plans on taking the driving test next week to get his commercial driver's license, so he can fill in sometimes as a substitute bus driver.