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Your Opinion: Demographics and high school proposal

Your Opinion: Demographics and high school proposal

March 28th, 2013 by Clayton Hill, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

In my attempt to find the cost analysis of options for the high school situation, I visited the Jefferson City School Board's website and read the demographic studies.

Here is what I found most interesting: As a whole, the entire school district enrollment increased from 7,611 in 1986 to 8,438 in 2009 - an increase of only 827. Enrollment peaked in 1997 with 8,802 students - it then dropped some 400 during the past 12-year period. Projected growth in 2013 was from 8,343 to 8,421 in 2020 - only 78 students.

At the high school (9-12), the current projection indicates a decline in enrollment now from 2,568 through 2017, then steady increase to approximately 2,807 (average) in the year 2020, but that graph's growth appears distorted.

The existing high school is in an area of over 500 students per square mile - an economic advantage considering transportation and parking costs. The new property is in an area where density is less than 50 students per square mile. The existing school is located on an approximate 40-50 acre tract. The new location is approximately double in size.

In 1990, 76 percent of the students attended the Jefferson City Public Schools; in 2000 the number dropped to 72 percent. That means 28 percent of students do not attend public schools. The state average not attending public schools is 14 percent.

A separate issue from the high school is that of the new East School. This proposal should be turned down just on the notion that the old school is not worthy of continued use in the neighborhood it serves. It makes practically no sense to build new, abandoning the existing and busing students farther when most can walk. I would suggest fixing the building's problems, and building a new smaller school in an appropriate separate neighborhood.

If the Academic Center space is currently inadequate on Dunklin Street, build a metal building at Lewis and Clark or other available school property, or rent or buy one of the many vacant buildings all over town.

The new East School concept is the same approach taken with the Southwest School Early Education Center - unnecessary busing and an expansion of social services and taxes under the guise of educational needs.