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JCPS board talks mascots, colors and budget; not all united

JCPS board talks mascots, colors and budget; not all united

March 13th, 2018 by Phillip Sitter in Local News

Jefferson City Public Schools (JCPS)

The Board of Education for Jefferson City Public Schools approved options for Capital City High School's mascot and school colors Monday night as well as the district's 2018-19 preliminary budget, but opinions on both agenda items were not entirely unanimous.

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Eighth-grade Thomas Jefferson Middle School student Taylor Hovis and CCHS Principal Ben Meldrum shared that the mascot and school colors committee of district staff, TJMS students, parents, community members and partners in education agreed the district's second high school should have a unique identity — particularly because that's how many of the students who will attend CCHS feel.

In that spirit, Hovis and Meldrum presented the following recommendations for mascot and school colors possibilities: Cavaliers, Panthers or Ravens and Carolina blue with gray, royal blue with silver or royal purple with silver; the options now go to a public vote.

The colors are not paired with any of the mascot recommendations, unlike originally proposed. The public will vote to independently choose a mascot from the three choices and then colors from the trio of pairs.

There was almost a fourth mascot choice to be put to the public's vote — Blue Jays or Blue Birds, which board President Steve Bruce was a proponent of at the meeting. Bruce said the Blue Jays or Birds had been the most popular initial mascot idea suggestion by the public.

Blue Jays or Birds had led with 235 public submissions. Cavaliers had 23, Ravens, 20 and Panthers, 15.

However, a majority of the board favored leaving the mascot and school colors committee's recommendations as they were without additions or amendments, and the board then unanimously approved the committee's recommendations.

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With board approval granted so the vote can open, the public will have until March 21 to choose between selection of the Cavaliers, Panthers and Ravens and the three colors options.

A ceremony to reveal the public's choices will be at 2:15 p.m. March 23 at Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

JCPS Director of Secondary Education Gary Verslues said black will most likely serve as a third color for trim — regardless of which pair the public chooses — meaning there will still be some visual connection between CCHS and Jefferson City High School's red and black colors.

Red and black was the subject of the district's budget presentations by JCPS' chief financial and operating officer Jason Hoffman.

Hoffman recommended the board approve a preliminary budget that forecasts a more than $1.8 million surplus change to the district's operating budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

That includes extra revenue from the district's increased tax levy but also $563,460 to pay for increased compensations — particularly for teachers.

The board ultimately approved the preliminary budget 5-2.

Michael Couty and Pam Murray voted against the budget.

"Last year, we broke out central office administrators, and the vote, the preliminary budget that was passed, did not include a raise for central office administrators. How much was actually spent on central office administrator raises?" Murray asked after an initial motion to approve next year's preliminary budget was put forward.

"Pam, I'm sorry, let me stop you there. I think that the agenda item's on the '18-19 operating budget, and not the current year's budget or allocations for salaries," Bruce said.

"If you've got specific questions about this year's budget, I would encourage you to take those up with (Hoffman) or (Superintendent Larry Linthacum)," he continued, adding "I think you guys have had some prior conversation"

"Yes, we did," Murray said.

"I'm not sure if that's been fruitful or not. If you've got questions about specific salaries and specific staff, it's not an appropriate time to take them up now. We'll do that in closed (session meeting) if that's your preference, but we need to keep the agenda item."

"Last year, we had a vote on the budget, and I don't think that that vote was respected, and that did result in disbursement of additional funds," Murray said of her concerns.

Board member Lori Massman interjected and called for the previous question — a procedural action that called for a two-thirds vote to end debate on the meeting agenda item. That succeeded, which then immediately forced the 5-2 vote on the preliminary budget itself.

Bruce said after the meeting that members are given weeks of advanced opportunity before board meetings to air concerns with the rest of the board, and if concerns remain, they can add agenda items.

"This is not an item to discuss in open session," he said of personnel matters including salaries.