As both a parent of young children and a payer of property tax, I have been following the work of the Jefferson City Public Schools Long Range Facility Planning Committee as well as decisions made by the school board and administrative staff. I am left in a quandary - I recognize needs of students for safe facilities that promote learning. However, I do not trust current leaders to make wise decisions. Let me give you two examples: administrative salaries and use of funds for facilities.
In 2009 a school superintendent was hired at a salary of $178,000. His current salary is listed as $218,515 our student population is 8,880. The superintendent in Columbia (who has about 10 more years of experience) is paid $198,992.00, he oversees 17,905 students.
Since Dr. Mitchell arrived here many administrative salaries have increased faster than community salaries. The US Census lists median household income for Cole County as $55,465, more than $8,000 above the state average.
JCPS administrative offices, on East Dunklin, were very recently renovated at a cost of more than $1 million. Meanwhile, not too far away, is East Elementary School, a facility where there is an inside "air quality concern." This is a school for young children and it has no grassy play area outside and inside is not an environment I would like for my children.
But the important thing to note here is that our School Board has made sure administrative staff can operate from a position of (economic) comfort that most of their patrons cannot.
I sincerely hope that before the district comes to me with another bond issue there is more than a good plan. For my children's sake, I must be able to see that the climate has changed and the district priorities echo my own: the kids come first.