A seemingly perennial topic of local conversation is a second public high school in the Jefferson City school district.
The conversation no longer is simply conceptual.
During a day-long retreat last week, local educators discussed placing a facilities bond issue before district voters, perhaps as early as April 2012.
The impetus, in part, was a consultant's demographic study indicating the high school population will start growing in 2016-17.
Discussion of an election date refocuses attention on recommendations by a Secondary Education Task Force created in 2009 by Superintendent Brian Mitchell.
Three options suggested by the task force are:
• Construct a second high school with amenities similar to the existing high school, as well as renovate the exisiting complex.
• Renovate and expand the existing high school complex, along with renovation or reconstruction of Nichols Career Center and Thorpe Gordon Elementary School.
• Renovate and expand the existing high school complex and include satellite locations, including Simonsen 9th Grade Center, for some classes.
In any ballot issue to go before voters, money is an object.
Mitchell estimated the cost of all three options in the $50 million to $60 million range.
He added all three options also are designed to focus on "21st Century Teaching," which includes reading, math, science and social studies, but also emphasizes critical thinking and problem solving.
The task force recommendations are scheduled to be presented in February to the Board of Education.
Any options advanced by the board then would be presented to patrons through public meetings designed to gather ideas and input.
The process, admittedly, will be both lengthy and complicated.
We urge district patrons to participate by staying informed and considering what option offers the best use of their tax dollars to enhance public education.