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JCPS discusses boundary line review policy

JCPS discusses boundary line review policy

August 30th, 2018 by Phillip Sitter in Local News

Jefferson City Public Schools (JCPS)

Jefferson City Public Schools continues to seek more information as it develops a policy on when and how it should review its school attendance boundary lines in the future.

The JCPS Board of Education is getting close to making a decision on a set of current boundary line change proposals intended to accommodate the opening of Capital City High School, with the goal of keeping enrollment and poverty-levels between the district's two high schools equitable and, if possible, putting CCHS within Thomas Jefferson Middle School's attendance area.

The board will likely make a decision at its September meeting, when the group will either choose one of three options developed by the district's boundary line committee or select another one.

That work is just the beginning of a longer, more comprehensive and years-long process of adjusting other schools' boundary lines. The board's policy committee met Wednesday and discussed the development of a written policy to have in place to guide that work.

Board member and policy committee chair Ken Enloe said he had asked JCPS Superintendent Larry Linthacum to seek feedback from other school districts on what their policies are when it comes to re-assessing boundary lines.

Linthacum said school districts on the Kansas side of Kansas City do not have a policy, he was still waiting on Columbia Public Schools' information, and Joplin schools also do not have a specific policy.

"I would be most curious to see what Columbia's doing," board member Lindsey Rowden said, adding while Columbia is a much larger district in terms of student population, "I think they've been more aggressive in changing those (boundary lines) and keeping it going year after year."

She added, "I think we need to get a good plan in place and commit to people in our community that we're going to make this right — we're going to visit, fix it and revisit it" more regularly.

She also acknowledged while Columbia adds new school buildings more often than Jefferson City, "I just think it's interesting that they kind of just rip that Band-Aid off and make that change."

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Linthacum said the boundary line committee had asked to have a written policy in place so the district could review its boundary lines any time the poverty rate difference between the two high schools is in the double digits for two consecutive years. He recommended that be the policy as well.

Enloe said the consensus he's heard is that a time frame would also be good to include, to have the district look at boundary lines every certain number of years, whether there have been other changes in demographics or enrollment.

He wanted parameters that don't have the district waiting until it builds another school.

The policy committee did not make any decisions on a JCPS boundary line review policy Wednesday and awaited more information Linthacum would gather before their next quarterly meeting.