Jefferson City school district proposes solutions to overcrowding

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Jefferson City School District held a meeting at West Elementary School Wednesday night to present solutions to the district's overcrowding problem.

JC Schools superintendent Larry Linthacum said the overcrowding problem was identified in 2015, and in the time since then, the district has prioritized grades 9-12.

To fix the problem at the elementary and middle school levels, the school district proposed four different solutions. Linthacum said the district's goal was to fix the overcrowding problem without raising taxes.

The district's preferred solution was to build two new buildings for just 5th and 6th grades. The buildings would be 140,000 square feet each and have a capacity of 800 students.

To best find out what needed to be improved, the district put together focus groups, which toured all the buildings that were overcrowded and identified the problems that most needed to be addressed.

JC Schools Director of Quality Improvement Brenda Hatfield said part of the process included surveys to staff and students at the K-8 level.

Many parents at Wednesday's meeting expressed concerns with adding an extra transition to their students' school path.

"You go from a community based elementary school to a large school where they're feeding in six or seven elementary schools' students," Hatfield, who has kids in the school district, said. "You are going to a team concept, which is great, but there's a hundred kids on your kid's team as opposed to 20 in their classroom at your elementary school."

Hatfield said adding in a 5th and 6th grade building will offer a softer transition for students and parents, which she said will be a huge help.

The next step in the process will be for the Jefferson City Board of Education to approve the bond language at their January meeting. That meeting will take place on the 13th.