Jefferson City Public Schools anticipates that a proposed new high school activities conference will be a crowd-pleaser, as well as benefit students.
JCPS' Board of Education approved a plan Monday night for Jefferson City High School and Capital City High School to be part of the new Central Missouri Activities Conference with Helias Catholic High School, three Columbia high schools and Sedalia's Smith-Cotton High School, beginning in the 2020-21 school year.
The three Columbia schools would be Muriel W. Battle, Hickman and Rock Bridge high schools.
JCPS' activities director Ehren Earleywine talked to the school board Monday night about some of the benefits of the proposed conference; JCPS is not currently part of a high school activities conference.
"Some of the benefits: travel is shorter — kids will be in class more as a result of that, because all those schools are close; the ease of scheduling; better crowds and rivalries will be created as a result of the conference; more recognition of our athletes — all-conference, and we'll also have an academic all-conference for kids with a 3.5 or higher (grade point average). There will be a coach of the year for each activity," Earleywine said.
He added that conference schools would also be ranked.
When asked by board member Stephanie Johnson if she was excited about the conference, Earleywine said: "I am. I think it's going to be pretty intense we're going to be playing Helias in football, which obviously has never happened, and now, you put that into a conference setting where there's a conference champion; it's going to be intense, and I think it's going to create enormous crowds, much bigger than they are now, because of these rivalries."
"Conferences, as you know, create tremendous rivalries, and we've been missing that for a long time," he said.
Earleywine was not available after the meeting, but JCPS' chief financial and operating officer Jason Hoffman said he thought the other proposed members of the conference are all planning on signing on to the agreement.
If more teams want to join in the future, at least six of the seven member schools would have to approve it.
Hoffman said schedules for the coming school year will be pretty similar to this past year.
Earleywine said the year's delay before the conference would become active is to allow time for preparation and scheduling.
He said six of football's nine games would be conference games. The first two games of the season would be non-conference, as well as the last game of the regular season.
He added that golf, cross country, wrestling, swimming and track — individual-related sports — would have conference tournaments, but no other sports would.
Activities must be approved by the Missouri State High School Activities Association to be included in the conference, he said.
The conference would include boys and girls cross country; football; boys and girls golf; boys and girls tennis; volleyball; boys and girls soccer; softball; boys and girls swimming — which JCPS does not compete in — boys and girls basketball; wrestling; baseball; boys and girls track; scholar bowl; speech and debate; cheerleading; dance; instrumental music; vocal music; and student council.
Board member Lindsey Rowden made the motion to accept the proposed new conference, and Johnson seconded it.
In other board news, the contracts the approved Monday included $87,268 to pay for two mobile classroom units at the rear of Thomas Jefferson Middle School — $27,500 with Stokes Electric Company, Inc. for necessary electrical upgrades, and $59,768 with Classroom, Inc. for the trailers themselves.
Hoffman said the trailers are needed to accommodate additional teachers and classrooms for extra sections of reading — which both of the district's middle schools will have.
Lewis and Clark Middle School did not have a good location to place trailers, but both middle schools will be dividing their commons areas to be able to have classes there, Hoffman added.
Thomas Jefferson has more students than Lewis and Clark. It was not known Monday night which classes would be in the mobile units at Thomas Jefferson.
JCPS' director of facilities and transportation Frank Underwood said existing mobile units at JCHS will be needed there next year, as renovations continue.
"We're having discussions — they think they may need them even the following year," Hoffman added.
JCPS' Superintendent Larry Linthacum called the trailers at Thomas Jefferson a temporary solution.
JCPS' director of quality improvement Brenda Hatfield said the district's facilities committee anticipates bringing recommendations to the board by October to address preK-8 building needs.