Timeline for new Jefferson City High School set in motion
JEFFERSON CITY – After Jefferson City residents voted in favor of funding a second public high school on Tuesday, district superintendent Larry Linthacum said work has begun to open the doors in 2019.
While boundary lines and tax rate details are capable of changing, Linthacum said there is a plan in place that the district will communicate with its residents.
“The boundary lines are pretty safe to say with Lewis and Clark for the current high school and Thomas Jefferson Middle School for the second high school,” Linthacum said. “I don’t see major changes to that, but there may be tweaks to that moving forward and we’ll revisit those on a more regular basis as a school district.”
Linthacum would not comment on any further time line for when the finalization of boundary lines may come.
The tax rate is more set in stone, as Linthacum said residents do not have to worry about an abrupt change with district taking more of a phase-in approach.
“Total, there’s 65 cents on the bricks and mortar and then 45 cents on an operating level,” Linthacum said. “But it’ll be a phased in approach. Right now the plan is to start at 85 cents of the $1.10. We will not need all of it. The next year look at adding 10 or 15 cents, then the final year adding the final dime.”
20 of the 45 cents in the original tax rate will still go to K-12 instructional resources and Linthacum anticipates having those funds starting this coming school year.
The public is open to discuss the upcoming tax rates for the district at the August board meeting.
While resources will go to improving schools right away, full implementation won’t come until the school opens.
“The full operation of the new high school will not be in effect until the fall of 2019, so we will not be taxing folks here and there. It’ll be a phase in approach,” Linthacum said.
Linthacum said he plans on using the same approach when communicating with staff, teachers and families to do what’s best for the district. He said he hopes to have more of a concrete time line before the teachers go on summer vacation.
Talk of possible school expansion first started when the district purchased land in 2012, but passing Proposition J and C’s respective bond issues and tax levy’s pushed expansion into full swing.
Proposition J was a $130 million bond issue to build a second high school and make renovations to the current high school. The second high school would cost roughly $85 million to build, with the remaining funds going toward existing schools.
Proposition C was a tax levy to operate the new school and fund additional K-12 resources across the district. Residents in the Jefferson City Public Schools district will now pay a total tax increase of $1.10, an increase from $3.69 to $4.79.
New resources include technology updates, new textbooks with planning resources for teachers, more behavioral and mental health licensed counselors and a new preschool classroom in Callaway County.
Proposition J required a 4/7 majority vote to pass, while Proposition C need just a simple majority. The plan now is to begin construction at that location off Highway 179 near St. Mary's Hospital and the district will teach 9-12th graders at both high schools
Proposition J passed with a 63 percent vote in Cole County and a 58 percent vote in Callaway County. Proposition C passed with a 61 percent vote in Cole County and a 57 percent vote in Callaway County. Jefferson City Public Schools current number of 9th-12th graders is the largest in the state.
There will be two classes in the inaugural 2019 school year as part of a transition phase-in approach, three in 2020, then full implementation in 2021.
“Honestly I hope as well look 5 years, 10 years down the road, that this was a tipping point for Jefferson City,” Linthacum said. “We want to be the premiere school district in the state of Missouri. Years and years ago we were perceived as that, and that’s our goal, that’s our vision, we won’t apologize for that. We’re trying to raise the bar for everything we do.”
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