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JCPS facilities committee looking at building needs

JCPS facilities committee looking at building needs

June 2nd, 2019 by Phillip Sitter in Local News

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Jefferson City Public Schools staff wants more room to work together.

That's the consensus of a staff survey conducted by a JCPS facilities committee charged with bringing recommendations to the Board of Education by October.

"They're frustrated with a lack of collaboration space," Brenda Hatfield, JCPS director of quality improvement, said last month of the results of a survey that asked staff to identify building needs.

In addition to building-specific needs such as more parking or improved driveways that staff identified, another common theme in the survey results is there's a need for having spaces for ancillary education services, such as occupational or physical therapy or English as a second language, Hatfield said.

She told the school board May 13 the facilities committee had met three times, and along with the staff survey results that were being reviewed, the committee toured school buildings.

It's not the first time in recent years that JCPS has taken a look at its facilities needs — needs for space brought forth again last month when the school board approved two mobile classroom units for Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

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The JCPS Long Range Facilities Planning Committee in 2014 looked at needs on the elementary and secondary school level, and the planned opening of Capital City High School in August and renovation of Jefferson City High School under way will address the secondary school needs the committee recommended addressing first.

The committee also suggested prioritizing the construction of a new elementary school for 400 students on the east end of Jefferson City — at a cost projected in 2014 to be more than $13.7 million — and adding 10 classrooms to Callaway Hills Elementary School to increase the building's capacity by 220 students — at a then-projected cost of more than $5.5 million.

Beyond those facilities needs, the Long Range Facilities Planning Committee also identified four other projects and their estimated costs, as of 2014: a new middle school in Callaway County for 600 students, at a cost of almost $34.5 million; a new elementary school on the west side of Jefferson City for 400 students, at a cost of about $19.3 million; a renovation of Lewis and Clark Middle School, at a cost of about $6.5 million; and a renovation of Thomas Jefferson Middle School, also at a cost of about $6.5 million.

A new report last month by ACI Boland Architects found six of JCPS' 11 elementary schools were over desired student capacities in the most recent school year, and a seventh school was exactly at its desired student enrollment capacity.

Jason Hoffman, JCPS chief financial and operating officer, said the ACI Boland report found the district's two existing middle schools were under or barely over their desired student capacities, but that's only because of short-term, not ideal creative uses of space in the buildings.

JCPS Superintendent Larry Linthacum told the school board May 13 that the current facilities committee is only tasked with looking at elementary and middle school needs. But with board approval, he said, the district also wanted to look at athletics and activities facilities needs.

Hatfield said that would be a different committee with different members.

Hoffman said the yet-to-be-formed athletics and activities committee would look at space needs for grades 6-12.

That could include looking at having fields for competition at Capital City High School, baseball fields for the district, and improvements to Miller Performing Arts Center.

The current facilities committee consists of a mix of JCPS parents, current and former school board members, business owners, community members, teachers, retirees and other employees. They include: Rich Aubuchon, Brad Bates, Steve Bruce, Julie Burcham, Ashley French, Kim Hardin, Joni Henderson, Paula Hotz, Debra Kaiser, Kate Leary, Linthacum, Lori Massman, Brian Mutert, Ashley Pederson and Matt Tollerton.

Additionally, according to the list provided by JCPS director of communications Ryan Burns, the committee is supported by other JCPS staff: Hatfield; Hoffman; Lorie Rost, director of elementary education; chief of learning Brian Shindorf; Frank Underwood, director of facilities and transportation and safety and security coordinator; and director of secondary education Gary Verslues.