Jefferson City schools approve new boundries

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JEFFERSON CITY - Jefferson City schools will be have new boundaries starting in the fall of 2017.

Jefferson City Public Schools' board approved the new boundary lines Monday night.

Superintendent Larry Linthacum proposed the new boundary lines in January, responding to concerns of overcrowding at East Elementary School.

"We assessed and evaluated our current boundary lines, and there were some pockets. We had some overcrowding in some of our elementary schools, specifically East," Linthacum said. "We've proposed that and met with the parents of [the schools] affected by that."

The changes will move the boundary line south of U.S. Highway 50/63 along Elm and Dunklin streets, affecting East Elementary School, Thorpe Gordon Elementary School and Moreau Heights Elementary School.

Linthacum said the population growth has been small, but enough to cause issues.

"It's consistent with our district-wide, we're not growing like leaps and bounds, but it's just a slight increase in our growth over the years as far as our trend line," Linthacum said. 

East Elementary will see a smaller population in the fall, going from 403 to 377 students. The 66 displaced students will be distributed among two other elementary schools, with 57 going to Thorpe Gordon and nine going to Moreau Heights.

Linthacum said this change is proactive and a "step in the right direction."

"We just want to ensure that we have a positive learning environment for all of our kids. Any time that you can help alleviate some overcrowding, you just want to have that most positive environment possible," Linthacum said. 

The last change to boundary lines came in 1998 to counter overcrowding at Thorpe Gordon and Moreau Heights. This new change will return their lines to the last configuration before 1998.

"We're putting the boundary lines back like they were. It makes common sense. It follows the boundary lines of the highways that you can see on the map," Linthacum said.

Previous attempts to alleviate overcrowding included installing trailers at several schools, including one at East Elementary that holds two first grade classrooms. Linthacum said that was only a temporary solution.

"That's not an ideal situation, but we'd rather have a trailer to have smaller class sizes to alleviate the overcrowding," Linthacum said. "Our long term solution as a school district is to not have any students in trailers in any of our buildings."

Fourth graders this year at any of the three affected elementary schools will be allowed to finish their primary education at their current school.

Though the boundary changes passed, the adjustment is not the final step for Jefferson City Public Schools. Eventually, the city plans to build a new elementary school.

A schematics contract for a second high school facility was also approved at Monday night's meeting. 

"We're trying to address the high school issue first. It's part of a long term solution and long range plan to address space needs across the district at all grade levels," Linthacum said.

Though the high school would not be complete until 2021, JCPS has proposed installing new trailers at Jefferson City High School until the new facility is complete. Not everyone at the meeting was in favor of that temporary solution, due to how far the trailers would be from the main building.

"If trailers are brought to the field down there, there are huge safety issues that would be a concern," said Alan Mudd, retired JCPS school board member and teacher. 

The school board will vote on whether or not to build a new high school on April 4.