Jefferson City
Needs 2 High Schools


Welcome! Concerned Citizens of the Jefferson City School District

“No Mega High School” Yard Sign

Thanks everyone for helping myself and our group in making a difference in the Mega School voting yesterday.
Our work is not done.
The people must demand that this school board listen.

Please attend future school board meetings if you can. We will be there.

Dan Ortmeyer

 Please continue to follow the Long Range Facility Planning Committee's progress closely. Town Hall meetings will be held and you need to attend and let your voice be heard. Three school board seats are up for election in April 2014 and we need new candidates to represent the community. Most importantly always vote in every election. Democracy does work!!

The Jefferson City School District belongs to all of the tax payers and should be represented accordingly. Attend the meetings, otherwise SILENCE MEANS ACCEPTANCE.

Follow the discussion on Facebook at .


 2013’s Top 10 Jefferson City news Stories
(News Tribune) Sunday Paper 12/29/2013

#3 Voters defeat school bond issue

In April, Jefferson City Public School District voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to build a single new high school to replace the 1964-era Union Street campus that has served the community for decades. In the election, 67.5 percent of voters rejected the Jefferson City Board of Education’s request to issue $79 million in general obligation bonds to build the new facility and 64.3 percent voted to reject an increase in the school’s operating levy. The failure to pass both initiatives was stymied, in part, by the rise of a group that favored two high schools over one large, replacement facility. After the vote totals were announced, Dan Ortmeyer, leader of the two schools initiative, said: "Essentially, the school board has wasted the taxpayers’ time and money with this election. We tried to tell them the people of the school district want a second school option, but that is not what the people were allowed to vote on." Today the district is in the middle of developing a new plan to address the district’s long-range facilities needs. A work committee meets monthly to examine issues related to the districts’ growth.


We are asking all of our friends and Jeff City School District Tax Payers to attend the TOWN HALL MEETINGS concerning our public schools. Everyone is a stake holder that pays taxes even if you send your children to private school. The first one is this Sunday November 17th at 3:00pm in the JC Cafeteria. I know it is on Sunday and I am not happy about that. I have voiced my dislike and so have others but this is the first one of others to come. It is time to COWBOY UP folks and let your voice be heard. Please SHARE THIS WITH OTHERS

 Town Hall Meeting: Facilities, Nov. 17

 The Jefferson City Public Schools invite the public to the first in a series of Town Halls.


 Town Hall

“School Facilities”


Sunday, November 17

 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.

 Jefferson City High School Cafeteria


 Share in the discussions of the

 Long Range Facilities Planning Committee

 Demographic Study Update

 School Enrollment Data

 Discussions of space, capacity, safety and more for all buildings pre-kindergarten through12th grade


Please read and share the following:

JC School District facility planning committee information.

We have attached the list of people on the committee. It is imperative that the tax payers and voters of the JC school district stay engaged with this committee and process. Town hall meetings will be coming your way in future months. You will have the opportunity to voice your opinion at these meetings. The school board must listen to the tax payers that fund Jefferson City School District. They work for you!

There will be three school board seats up for election in April 2014. We need people that will represent the citizens/ Tax payers of our district. We do not want school board members that have their own agenda. If you know some qualified and motivated candidates please encourage them to run in the next school board election.

You can contact us at:

Citizens for Two Public High Schools



Facebook Community page:

Facebook Personal page:

Dan Ortmeyer,
Dan Email:


RANDY ALLEN                                                        BRAD BATES                                                      ANN BAX

STEPHANIE BELL                                                    STEVE BRUCE                                 TOM CARR

ROB CHILES                                                            JACKIE COLEMAN                                             MICHAEL COUTY

KARLENE DIEKROEGER                                        AMY FREEMAN                                                  GREG GAFKE

CHARLES GASKIN                                                 REV/DR. CASSANDRA GOULD                          RENE HARDIN

LARRY HENRY                                                        RICK HIRST                                                          STEPHANIE JOHNSON

JOHN LOWRANCE                                                PAM MURRAY                                  DANA MUTERT

DAN ORTMEYER                                                   DR. ARNOLD PARKS                                            JOHN RODEMANN

LONNIE SCHNIEDER                                             SHAWN SCHULTE                                               ROGER SCHWARTZE

KEN THEROFF                                                       MELANIE THOMPSON


ALAN MUDD                                                        DENNIS NICKELSON


News Articles

Jefferson City long range facility planning committee meets

Sherree Burruss, Reporter,

After voters shot down the plan for one new high school this year, the district's board said it needed to listen more. The district brought community members together Saturday to come up with a long-term plan for growth. The members of this new planning committee are all involved in the community in varying ways. It will still be several months before there's any plan, but that plan will chart the path for the next 20 years.
"We're going to be in this for a long time," said Kenny Southwich, committee facilitator. The community split over plans for a cramped high school, with the district's plan shot down at the ballot box in April. But the prospect of adding a new high school is leading to a bigger picture, a look at every building in the district. "We've identified the school and community are in this together and need to work and develop a relationship and partnership to look at common visions and develop some kind of commitment and communication," Southwick said.35 members were broken into small groups, thinking and planning for the school district's future. "In the small groups right now we are identifying those things in the school and community we are most proud of. We are also going to look at what we think our challenges are going to be over the next several years," said Southwick. "When we end today, we are going to see what are the barriers we'll have to overcome to be able to do our work." Every year, the committee will track the success of the plans, making changes if needed. Many voters in April said they felt the district had ignored them. Town hall and committee meetings will be held each month before the presentation to the school board next July.  "We will focus on issues that will allow this district and community to set an aspiration of a 20 year plan," Southwick said. "It will not be a single focus, it will be looking for solutions for issues the district and community will face over the next 20 years." Lorelei Schwartz, co-chair of the planning committee, told ABC 17 News the ultimate goal is to look at every school building and partnerships with universities determining, "what needs to be done and when."
The committee is broken into three parts, one to look at pre-K through eighth grade needs. Another will look at high school needs, and a third that looks at the combined needs of those two. The school board had bought land near the new St. Marys Health Center off 179 for one new high school in October 2012.
In December, the school board signed an agreement with Lincoln University and Linn Tech to sell the old high school if the new plans went through. It was this April when voters turned down a $79 million bond and levy issue.


What will the JC school district need in 20 years?

By Kris Hilgedick, Bob Watson

Monday, September 16, 2013

 A committee of community volunteers met for the first time en masse on Saturday to talk about the future of the Jefferson City Public Schools. 

Specifically these “stakeholders” have been asked by school administrators to create a long-range plan — 20 years out, although they hope it will be reviewed annually — to guide future facility-expansion decisions.

Lorelie Schwartz, a Jefferson City certified public accountant, and Bob Weber, JCPS director of facilities — have agreed to co-chair the effort. 

The committee will separate into two “fact finding” groups until the end of December. One will examine elementary and middle school issues; the other will look at high school concerns.

The group will be asked to weigh in on issues such as the raw square-footage the district needs to educate its pupils, the costs associated with providing that space and decisions about where that space should be renovated or newly constructed.

In one year school leaders want to be able to tell the community what the district’s space needs are, at what cost.

“I believe there is a strong interest and a strong need to map out a 20-year plan. There’s always something down the road that’s going to be needed ... to be able to outline what those needs are going to be, what those costs might be,” Superintendent Brian Mitchell said. 

During the meeting, members of the group said they need to gather as much demographic data as possible to guide their decisions. 

“We need to be able to make accurate projections,” said committee member Steve Bruce. “What is driving enrollment numbers?”

A new demography study is expected by mid-October. Facilitator Kenny Southwick, an educational planner with the Kansas City-based firm, ACI Boland Architects, said he’d like to wait until after that information is available to meet again. 

When asked what his firm was being paid to facilitate the meetings, Southwick indicated the school district and his firm hadn’t determined yet what those expenses will be.

On Saturday, the group broke into four teams to address three questions: What are they most proud of with the school district and community? What are the biggest challenges facing the school district and community? And, what are the barriers to accomplishing the task at hand?

The first question — which elicited a long list of varied responses — revealed the group prides itself on Jefferson City’s “tradition of wholesomeness,” “spirit of volunteerism,” “athletic and academic history” and the city’s “safe environment.” 

The second question showed that the stakeholders are concerned about attracting young professionals and they are worried about the economic impact of state budget shortfalls. The committee members also lamented that Jefferson Citians, in general, tend to be too accepting of the status quo, resistant to new ideas or change, slow to embrace outsiders and not always open to diversity.

Participants also noted more students now are eligible for reduced-price lunches and raised concerns about how that is affecting the schools.

“That is not just a local phenomenon,” Southwick said. “Those numbers have jumped many places around the state. They don’t always get the same experiences. We have to work harder to reach them.” 

The third question — about barriers to success — was more challenging for some members. Some talked about obstacles that might be in the way of finishing a long-range plan by June; others wondered what will it take to convince voters to trust their ideas for future facilities.

Some of the possible “barriers” the groups pitched included: emotional attachments to the current facilities, fighting the ‘no change’ mentality, obtaining the financial resources necessary, a dearth of school board candidates and the inability to communicating effectively. They also mentioned that focus groups are sometimes negatively perceived as a way for leaders to check a box, not as a mechanism for listening.

John Rodemann said knowing the ideal size of a school and future enrollment would be helpful to him. 

“What are our enrollment projections for the next five years? What is the best size for a school? What is the funding/tax tolerance? What is the message from the last vote? We don’t want to do the same wrong thing twice,” he said. “What’s the general public’s consensus?” 

Southwick suggested each of the stakeholders not only bring their own ideas, they also represent their likeminded peers in the community. He called them “servant-leaders” for their willingness to help.

“Will everyone get everything they want? No. Absolutely not,” he added. “We want to be able to say, ‘That’s the best compromise we can come up with.’”

He added: “We want to be transparent. Be open. And speak a common language.”

After the meeting, participants seemed pleased by their work. 

“I like what I’m seeing and I think the community will, too,” said Dan Ortmeyer.

The group plans to meet monthly for about two hours, in addition to organizing a series of more-public town hall meetings. In July, a plan will be presented to the Board of Education for its consideration.

Opinion / Letter to the Editor

Your Opinion: JCHS student favors two high schools

Peter Kovar, Jefferson City

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Dear Editor:

As a student in a Jefferson City High School I feel there should be two public high schools. I think that the old high school should be brought up to date and a second school should be built. This would allow a better student to teacher ratio in the classroom. This would also give students more opportunity to achieve.

On the athletic basis this would give more students the ability to compete and play. The schools that we would be competing against would be closer, so the cost of travel would be less and safer.

I am strongly against the idea of the campus schools. I do not feel this is a successful way to encourage students to succeed.


Your Opinion: Academy weakness concerns educator

Mary Ellen Laden, Jefferson City

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Dear Editor:

Well over a decade ago, when Dr. Richard Pemberton and the staff at JCHS originally investigated academies, research showed that 20 percent more teachers would have to be hired in order for academies to succeed. Today when JCHS looks at implementing academies, in order to avoid hiring more teachers, the administration has turned to embedded credits, an idea that really concerns me as a 32-year veteran of the secondary classroom. Core classes — English, science, math, and history — will loose instructional time to these embedded credits.

An example of embedded credits at work could be this. Sophomore English is already integrated with biology (at least 40 students with a science teacher and an English teacher). Because there aren’t enough certificated speech teachers for each academy, students will give presentations in English and/or other core classes in order to receive credit for a speech class. If those students also go to a computer/technology class for training on Edmodo, cloud storage, etc., that student will receive a total of four credits while in one class of bio/lit.

This practice not only takes valuable instructional time from core classes but also gives only a surface introduction to true public-speaking skills or a true understanding of technology. Why would we want our students to barely touch the surface of a subject and receive full credit? This idea of skimming the surface of a skill is worrisome because it is not true education, but embedding will occur at JCHS through the academy system.

This practice of going into a technology class for instruction on specific programs is not education; it is training. Training a student makes him good at one task; educating a student to think and reason means he has skills to perform all kinds of tasks. As of May during my last academy meeting, Simonsen would implement this training concept this year. We cannot succumb to embedded credits.

Our Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) score of 77, our score of 6/10 for our lower ACT scores and other indicators show that our students need more quality instruction in core classes, not less. Our district should not sacrifice student learning because it can’t hire more teachers for academies while willingly hiring all kinds of new administration and creating new, high-paying board office positions.

Parents and school patrons should educate themselves about all the changes academies will bring.


Your Opinion: On board with education, not conference center

Charles Gaskin, Jefferson City

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Dear Editor:

Tooooot. Toooot. Toot. Toooot. There are two trains coming to Jefferson City, arriving soon.

The first to arrive is the Conference Center Special. It looks fancy and promises to bring hordes of visitors to town who will supposedly make our store owners rich and city coffers filled. Actually, because of poor or almost non-existing planning, it’s certain that such pipe dreams will not happen.

The aforementioned promises simply are not attainable. Instead, to save face, you and I will be forced to send our hard-earned funds to the city’s cash box to make up the difference. The train’s engineer is our Chamber of Commerce and the conductors are the City Council.

The second to arrive will be the JC Public Schools Facilities Special. The train’s engineer is a Dr. Mitchell who assembled a team of conductors made up of local citizens. Eventually, they will want to spend our hard-earned funds to expand and improve the facilities around town. They are not promising great wealth or a ton of visitors. Okay, the ton of visitors are our children and the great wealth is sufficient knowledge so our children can be successful in life. Hopefully, some day they will take care of us, instead of us taking care of them.

After looking at whatever facts that are available right now for each train, I want to board the JC Public Schools Facilities Special. I do not know the exact destination right now; however, I would rather put my money on the children. Yes, mine are successful because of the education they received here. And that is the way I like it.

By the way, this letter’s opening is the locomotive’s engineer signal that his train is approaching a road which crosses his tracks. It is a warning that he cannot stop the train quickly.

"Ortmeyer said he's not backing down from the district, claiming the school district appears to have "disregarded" the response from taxpayers"

They delivered their remarks in an open forum at the board’s regularly scheduled meeting Monday night. Their comments came in the wake of last Tuesday’s election, when voters rejected the board’s plan to build a replacement high school by more than two votes to one.

Rod Burnett, a co-leader of the "Citizens for 2 Public High Schools" campaign, told the board: "I will volunteer to be on any future planning committee. I know there is a valid need there. I look forward to being involved."

Dan Ortmeyer, Burnett’s co-leader, said that "the entire community needs to be involved in this process."

Jackie Coleman, a former member of the Jefferson City School Board, said she wants to help, as well. "I’m looking forward to making sure we’re doing the best thing for our kids."

Harold Coots, who ran unsuccessfully for a school board seat, said he spoke out against the plan for a single, replacement high school because he didn’t feel it was the best plan for future growth. "And not just because it was a tax," he said.


Columbia offers blueprint for gaining support for new school

Battle High School in Columbia, Mo., cost $75.1 million to build and will open this fall.

By Kris Hilgedick

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Leaders and residents alike have been debating for decades the merits of building a second high school in Jefferson City, but what will it take to move the needle?

In April, Jefferson City’s Board of Education worked to persuade voters to approve a $79 million bond issue for a new high school and an elementary school, but the initiative failed.

In the aftermath of that decision, both school district leaders and critics recognized that multiple factors may have led to voters’ rejection of the board’s plan. Among those reasons included some residents’ preference for a second high school, as opposed to a single replacement school; disagreements about the true cost of operating one versus two schools; and questions about whether school leaders were listening to the community’s opinions.

It’s likely board members and administrators eventually will craft another plan to take to voters.

Other school districts across the state have faced — and overcome — similar challenges. Here’s how they did it.

In Columbia, the perception that the district’s secondary schools were too crowded compelled the community to agree to build Battle High School — Columbia’s third, after Hickman (opened in 1927) and Rock Bridge (1973).

It was time

Michelle Baumstark, community relations director for the Columbia Public Schools, said school leaders realized they wanted to include ninth-graders back in the high school setting, and there was a growing awareness in the district — which has both middle schools and junior highs — that students were being asked to make too many transitions between kindergarten and graduation.

But it took the development of a long-range plan and tremendous amounts of community engagement to convince Columbia voters it was time.

"Engagement. Engagement. Engagement. This is their (the residents’) plan. This is what they want for their schools. As educators, it’s really easy to say, ‘This is what’s good for kids.’ But it doesn’t matter if that’s not what your community wants," she said.

Over the years, numerous rounds of committees — involving hundreds of stakeholders in the district — have met to discuss everything from where the new school should be located to what it should look like. Columbia has so many resident committees they actually have a committee set up solely to organize all the other ones.

Baumstark said, after the facilities plan came out, district leaders went to the voters for an initial $60 million in 2007, with the idea that the new high school would be built in three phases.

"We were looking at three consecutive bond issues for $60 million each," she said.

That first bond issue passed with 76 percent approval.

"Then the economy changed," she said. "We had some difficulty here. We knew that, financially, we were going to have to go out to our community and ask for a tax levy (increase). That ultimately failed in 2008. So we went through a series of budget reductions."

Also, leadership in the superintendent’s office changed.

Changing course

Along the way, many people made it known they didn’t like the location selected for the new high school. It was considered too far away from the city’s core and didn’t have enough road infrastructure.

"We had another site evaluation committee come together made up of community members, city and county officials, who looked at another set of properties, and we purchased a different property," Baumstark said. (Both sites are east of the city, but the final one is located to the north.)

Finding the right place for the new school was not easy.

"It’s really hard to find 80-plus acres of land in any area that’s going to be undeveloped," she lamented.

After working out agreements with the land developers and the Missouri Department of Transportation, district leaders evaluated where they were in the construction process.

Baumstark said: "We re-evaluated and said, ‘Ya know what? The economy has tanked. It’s actually a really good time to build because of that. We need to take advantage of some of the opportunities that are out there for construction work.’

"It was a huge opportunity for the school district."

Baumstark said school leaders decided to combine the last two bond issues into one. In 2010, 70 percent of voters passed a bond issue for $120 million.

"So we’re in a good position at that point in time," Baumstark said.

Being able to build the high school in one fell swoop, rather than three phases, was better for students.

"That was a big shift for our community to go from three phases to one, but it saved us money," she said. "And we avoided crazy transitions for kids over a period of six years."


The district budgeted $75.1 million to build the school: $68 million was spent on constructing the school and $7 million was spent on furniture and equipment. The construction cost, per square foot, was $216.

As they started the building process, Columbia decided to hire a construction manager, as opposed to a general contractor. Although the construction manager — J.E. Dunn — organized the subcontractors, the firm did not issue bids.

"We bid everything out. It allowed a lot more opportunities to have local companies involved in the process and gave us more control over costs," Baumstark said. "We’re on time and on budget, and I think it has to do with the level of micromanagement by the school district."

Other districts have also found that high levels of community engagement — combined with obvious signs of overcrowding — is critical for persuading voters to check yes in the ballot box.

In North Kansas City, serious problems with overcrowding finally caught the public’s attention and galvanized the community to build Staley High School, which opened in 2009.

Bob Maggio, executive director for support services in the North Kansas City School District, said it took five or six years of work on the part of the administrative staff before they approached the voters in 2005 with a request to build a new high school. The bond issue passed without any organized opposition.

"No one came out of the woodwork," he said.

He said when school board members and administrators lead the fight, the public perceives they have a special interest in the project. It takes interest from parents and businesses for an idea to gain traction.

"We probably thought we needed a new school for a long time before that," Maggio said, but he added it took time to build community support.

"The moral of the story is that you do need someone, other than the school district administration, really beating the drum. You have to get the patrons on board, and then the administrators can support that."

As they planned for Staley High School, Maggio said administrators knew they couldn’t ignore the other three high schools if they wanted the plan to succeed.

"You can’t forget about the other three," he said.

To ameliorate those concerns, additional gymnasiums were built at the older schools and their science facilities were upgraded. "We took the designs for the new high school science labs and used the exact same designs for the older high schools. Now you can’t tell if you are in the newest or the oldest," he said.

While each school has its own personality, school district leaders have made a conscious choice to make the educational experience the same at every institution.

Columbia’s leaders did something similar.

"Parity — making sure all kids have equal opportunity to high quality — is important," she said.

To that end, an auxiliary gym and improvements to the school’s weight and locker rooms were built at Rock Bridge High School. At Hickman, crews have built a new competition gymnasium, made improvements to the football stadium’s grandstand and constructed new career center space for programs such as culinary training and broadcast journalism.

"They are really popular programs; those courses are really full," Baumstark said.

Accommodating the needs of the incoming freshmen was part of the thinking behind building the extra gym space.

"They have a P.E. requirement, and you can’t do that with only one gym," she said.

New scoreboards also were installed at all three high schools. And installing field turf — instead of grass — at all three schools was a "sticking point," Baumstark said.

Communities share recent experience building new high schools

By Kris Hilgedick

Sunday, June 16, 2013

While Jefferson City continues to delve into the process of attempting a new high school, other communities — Columbia, Wentzville, North Kansas City and Joplin — have successfully built high schools in recent years.

State-of-the-art high schools aren’t built every year in Missouri, but these districts have managed — even in the face of the past decade’s tough economy — to persuade voters to part with the tax dollars it takes to build a new school.

Jason Hoffman, chief financial officer for the district, said the district originally considered building a 225,000-square-foot second high school designed to serve about 1,600 students. Instead, administrators and board leaders opted for a 450,000-square-foot facility to replace the existing one, the Simonsen 9th Grade Center and the Nichols Career Center.

If voters had approved the plan, Hoffman estimated the per-square-foot building cost would have been $165.

(In Jefferson City’s case, the current high school, including the Nichols Career Center, at 609 Union St. is 266,000 square feet.)

Hoffman said the district is facing real concerns with overcrowding. He noted that the JCHS gym stage is being used for classes every hour of the day.

"That’s one of our biggest problems ... gym space. It was built for only boys’ sports," he said.

He noted 665 ninth-graders were enrolled at Simonsen this year. By 2019, Hoffman believes the building will have to handle 862 teens. "Eight hundred sixty-two kids in Simonsen? Can you imagine?" he asked.

Enrollment estimates also show the size of the lower grades is expected to grow from an average of 639 to an average of 765.

Hoffman said several people in the community have expressed their disapproval about the district’s decision to buy the site located east of Missouri 179. Others complained school leaders have a "Taj Mahal" in mind.

But Hoffman said: "We’re in a Catch-22. I don’t think (voters) would pass the bond issue without knowing where it might be and what it might look like. We try to have the voters informed as much as possible."

He noted Jefferson City’s cost-per-square foot is lower than other similar buildings constructed across the state.

Hoffman said architects who were consulted over the project agreed that $79 million was adequate to build a new school. But specific cost estimates for building a new high school won’t be generated until voters give their assent.

"In order to get to that level of detail, we have to have architects draw up a building. And that costs money," he said.

Battle High School in Columbia

Location: 7575 E. St. Charles Rd.

Construction cost: $75.1 million

Square footage: 300,000

Student population: 1,063, estimated for fall 2014

Battle High School is slated to be open this fall to grades 9-11, but parents, teachers and students already are meeting there to prepare for next year’s extracurricular activities.

"We have a lot of things that are going to be happening in August," said Michelle Baumstark, community relations director for the Columbia Public Schools.

Not only is the district changing its grade configurations, it’s reorganizing all the teachers in the secondary buildings. The ninth-graders will be joining the high schools as freshmen, and the middle schools and junior highs will be combined. Start times will be affected. New school boundaries have been established. And the district has formulated a new, stricter school-to-school transfer process.

"All that because we wanted to build a new high school," she said.

At Battle High School, the students also played a role in designing the new building, including more indoor/outdoor space and a balcony that overlooks the football stadium.

"Students visit a lot of different schools, and they had some cool ideas," she said. "We wanted to include things important to them."

Establishing new boundaries was one of the district’s biggest struggles, taking two years to finalize. The goal was to balance the city’s racial and socioeconomic demographics and to do it in a way that takes into consideration transportation issues and natural boundaries.

"We probably went through 600 different boundary scenarios. We really spent months gathering feedback … making sure everybody was where they wanted to be," she said. "People don’t like change."

All three schools will be on block scheduling, as a result of the new school.

What’s driving the need for the new high school?

Primarily, population growth. Between 2000 and 2010, Columbia grew by almost 24,000 people, a 28.4 percent increase.

Baumstark surmised that people — both patients and staff — are drawn to the community’s medical facilities. She also said regional economic developers have been successful at creating jobs and retirees have found they enjoy living in Columbia, too.

Columbia has not yet taken the leap to implementing career-path academies, although leaders there are intrigued by the idea, particularly the way career-oriented learning can be made more relevant to teens. They are in the process of implementing "Project Lead the Way," which encourages students to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

"We’re talking about that concept, but we’re eager to see what happens in Jefferson City," she said.

Liberty High School in Wentzville

Location: 2275 Sommers Road, O’Fallon

Construction cost: $46 million (Phase One)

Square footage: 227,000 square feet

Student population: 1,300 students

Blair Oaks School District may accurately claim to be among the fastest growing districts in the state, but the prize for No. 1 recently went to the Wentzville R-4 School District, which saw its district grow by more than 39,000 residents between 2000 and 2010.

More than 71,000 people — drawn by affordable housing and thousands of empty platted lots — live in the district. (For comparison’s sake, almost 72,000 people live in the Jefferson City Public School District.)

In the past 12 years, the Wentzville school district has built 10 schools, including the new Liberty High School, scheduled to open this fall.

Convincing voters the school was needed wasn’t easy.

"It was difficult," said Kari Monsees, chief financial officer for the Wentzville R-4 School District. "It took us two attempts, and both were close. It’s just tough to get an increase in challenging economic times."

With 800 students in each of the upper grades and 1,100 in the elementary grades, administrators felt they had to act.

"We had so many kids in the pipeline, we had to do something," he said.

One problem is that Wentzville’s growth in enrollment had outpaced its ability to acquire enough money to build the classrooms. Because of a state law that prevents a district from borrowing more than 15 percent of its total assessed valuation, using low-interest general obligation bonds to borrow more money wasn’t an option.

Instead, the district asked voters to approve a 30-cent levy increase that was used to create a revenue stream. The funding allowed the district to borrow money through a lease-purchase agreement. Under the promise to voters, the district is building $66 million in improvements, including the new high school ($46 million) and nine additions at other schools in the district.

The land for the new high school was a separate purchase.

The $46 million isn’t enough to build a complete facility, but it did provide enough space for the school’s freshman class of 280 students.

"We’re starting with one grade. We’re going to bring in a grade level every year," Monsees said. "It will relieve pressure mainly on Timberland High School and to a lesser extent on Holt High School."

(The district will have three high schools and an alternative program.)

Called "Phase One," the new school will be 227,000 square feet in size and is expected to have space for 1,300 students. They are paying $203 per square foot for the facility.

"We have nice buildings, but not Cadillacs," Monsees said. "The nicest thing about the new high school is the site, which has a small stream, a bridge and some natural areas."

It won’t have a second gymnasium or an auditorium. Once finished, the new high school is anticipated to cost between $60 million and $65 million, and will be able to serve up to 1,800 students.

But the district doesn’t have a clear approach yet for raising that money.

"It all depends on property values, which have declined," Monsees said.

Lowered property values translate into lesser assessments for the schools. Monsees said officials felt fairly certain they had seen the last of the economic downturn in 2009, but 2011 and 2013 weren’t much better. Monsees refused to speculate about whether the district would have any extra funding available soon to complete the high school.

"It can change so dramatically in a short period of time. We’re more optimistic than we have been for years," he said.

Monsees said Wentzville did consider trying career academies — similar to Jefferson City’s approach — but opted to adhere to a traditional approach.

"We’re not done building high schools. Academies make sense if you’re done or if you’re on your last ... but we think we’ll need a fourth high school in 15 years," he said.

Staley High School in North Kansas City

Submitted photo

Above is Staley High School in North Kansas City, Mo.

Location: 2800 N.E. Shoal Creek Parkway, Kansas City

Construction cost: $63 million

Square footage: 315,000 square feet

Student population: 1,300-1,400 students

North Kansas City Schools was a three-high-school district since the 1970s, until overcrowding in the schools — first noticed about 13 years ago — started to force change.

"We were holding five and six classes in the cafeteria and three in the back of the school’s auditorium. Students were taking notes in their laps," said Bob Maggio, executive director for support services in the North Kansas City School District. "Patrons, parents, students and teachers all started to raise questions."

In 2009, Staley High School opened.

"It’s truly a state-of-the-art property," Maggio said.

Maggio said the building reflects the values of the North Kansas City School District. It’s safe, energy efficient and able to handle the latest in technological demands. All the classrooms have a projection system. Its brick exterior matches other schools in the district. It’s designed with future expansion in mind. It includes a TV studio for school news broadcasts. It includes all the usual athletic facilities — football field, track and tennis courts.

"It looks like a brick school house," Maggio said.

Designed to meet the needs of 1,600 students, the new school is 315,000 square feet in size. It cost $63 million to build, or $200 per square foot.

To make the plan work, the school purchased an additional 20 buses.

"When you build a new school, you have to plan for more staff, more buses, more food service. A lot of things are impacted," Maggio said.

What’s driving the area’s growth?

Maggio said workers — particularly city employees — prefer North Kansas City because it feels like a suburb. For years, Kansas City residents gravitated to southern communities like Leawood and Overland Park. Now the growth is headed north.

"We have a little country, we’re a little rural, but we are in the city limits, and we serve 13 municipalities," he said. "We’re still growing by 300 students a year. Building a new middle school is next."

Maggio said when Staley was being considered, the district contemplated an academies approach. An international baccalaureate program already existed at the oldest high school and it seemed possible to identify separate career paths at the others.

In the end, the district decided to "externalize" their career programming by placing students with businesses in the community.

So, for example, a student interested in medicine will take some classes at North Kansas City Hospital and a student interested in manufacturing will someday spend half of the instructional day at the Ford Plant in Claycomo.

"It’s a complex, interwoven process," Maggio said.

Today, each of the high schools have around 1,300 to 1,400 students. He acknowledged some research has shown the ideal size for a school is 600 to 900 students.

"When it all shook out, I think it’s a fairly manageable number," he added.

Changing the school’s boundaries was one of the more controversial calls administrators faced with the new school. Eventually, they decided upon a clockwise movement of boundaries to "fill" the new school, although senior students were not required to move.

"There was push back," Maggio recalled.

One of the biggest peeves came from patrons who cared about their school’s football program and didn’t want to see talented players leave.

Joplin High School in Joplin

Location: 2104 Indiana Ave., Joplin

Construction cost: $116 million

Square footage: 504,000 square feet

Student population: 2,500

The Joplin Public Schools had one of the most unique pathways toward building anew, since their former high school was demolished by a tornado in May 2011.

The new building is in the "red iron stage," said Mike Johnson, director of construction.

Once finished, it will be 504,000 square feet in size and will house up to 3,000 students, although opening day enrollment in the fall of 2014 is expected to be more like 2,500.

Johnson said prior to the storm, the school had some overcrowding issues, but no one was talking yet about building another.

The new school is being built from a variety of sources: insurance proceeds, federal disaster assistance and public donations.

Joplin’s voters also agreed, in April 2012, to approve a $62 million bond issue to help replace the demolished school.

Johnson said, once finished, the new school is expected to cost $116 million, or $230 per square foot.

The new school features an auditorium, black box theater, classroom wings, a greenhouse, restaurant-grade facilities for a culinary program and all the usual sporting facilities including three gymnasiums. Marketing and business students will be tasked with operating a coffee shop and store at the school.

Like Jefferson City, Joplin is pursuing the academies model of education at the new school, which leaders there call "career paths."

Because the tornado also devastated the school’s vocational technology building, a new one is being constructed on site. This time, it will be integrated into the new school. Students who walk past the career training classes will be able to see the work others are doing.

"There’s a lot of transparency in the design," Johnson said.

Like Columbia, Joplin is using a construction manager model, as opposed to a general contractor, to build the school. The district had recently built three middle schools when the tornado hit, and lessons from that experience were still fresh in administrators’ minds.

"We’re saving money," he said.

To cope with the lack of a facility, school leaders cleared out a 100-year-old school building for underclassmen to use and retrofitted an empty big box store for the upperclassmen.

Johnson said the mood of the community is "just get it done."

"They want things back to normal," he said. "They see progress, but we can’t do it quickly enough. It takes time to do these things."

Jefferson City reacts to failure of bond and tax levy at the polls

Daniel Winn, Jefferson City Reporter, POSTED: 08:29 PM CDT Apr 03, 2013 UPDATED: 08:30 AM CDT Apr 04, 2013

Despite years of planning, Jefferson City is now left without funding for a new high school and additional debt. Jefferson City School District leaders had a planned to build a new high school revolving around a $79 million bond issue and a tax levy. The school even purchased 120 acres for the new campus involving a single high school consisting of separate academies. On Tuesday night, voters overwhelmingly turned down that measure by a nearly three-to-one margin. City residents tell ABC 17 News they have wanted another option all along: Two separate high schools. Now the district is left with a $3 million piece of property, no bond money and several questions about what went wrong. "The people voted yesterday and it should have sent a clear message to these school board members," said Dan Ortmeyer. Ortmeyer says residents were against paying higher taxes, but also wanted to reiterate that having just one high school is the wrong plan. "The majority of the people in the school district want a second high school," he said. "Through the surveys they've done before, it showed people preferred a second high school by 74 percent." Now, school official are open to options. "So now what we do is step back, take a deep breath, and start listening," said Jefferson City Public Schools spokesman David Luther said. Luther tells ABC 17 News that it's not likely citizens will see anything on the ballot within the year, but there is still a real need.

"We've got a space issue, and some of the things that were on the levy, those are critical," said Luther. School officials say they plan to set up several forums and open meetings so taxpayers can tell district leaders what they want and what they are willing to vote for. Ortmeyer and his group of residents, who support they two high school plan, say they are looking forward to meeting with school leaders and believe they could be the board's greatest assets.



Vote over, but debate on schools isn’t

Both sides agree something must be done, but what? 

By Kris Hilgedick

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The votes have been cast, and the ballots have been counted. But it’s not yet clear how school leaders will interpret the results of Tuesday’s election, when patrons of the Jefferson City School District declined to approve funding for a new high school or a host of other needs.

Moreover, it doesn’t seem as if the election settled the debate over whether the community needs a replacement high school or a second senior high.

Dan Ortmeyer, a key supporter of the two-schools movement, hopes the district will bring another proposal forward. He noted it’s been years since voters last gave the district more money. (The last voter-approved increase was in 2002 to raise teacher salaries.)

"Moving forward, there’s still a need in the district to do something. We need to get the entire community engaged. We need to establish a new committee, with new people," Ortmeyer said.

What did voters really say?

On Tuesday, 8,517 — 67.5 percent of those who cast ballots — voted against allowing the school district to incur debt by issuing $79 million in general obligation bonds, money that would have been used to build a new senior high school and elementary school. Voters also opposed a 25-cent increase in the district’s operating tax levy, money that would have paid for security improvements, teacher professional development, staffing, computers and transportation.

But among those "no" voters, it’s unclear how many are never in the mood to raise taxes; how many would give the district money, but can’t afford it; and how many just didn’t like the district’s plan for a large high school with seven career academies.

Ortmeyer said he believes voters are willing to support the local schools, but didn’t care for the district’s approach.

"I think the people are willing to pay for a tax increase, if it’s the right plan — a second, modest high school," Ortmeyer said.

He thinks it’s possible two high schools in town could share Adkins Stadium.

He also said he, and his supporters, are sincere in their belief that building a second public high school is the best way to address the school district’s real needs. He was indignant at the implication his group is a disingenuous cover for people who resent paying taxes.

Joy Sweeney, president of the Jefferson City Board of Education, said: "The next step is to make sure we do what’s best for our kids and be fiscally responsible to our community."

On election eve, Sweeney was encouraged by the support voters showed toward incumbent candidates Doug Whitehead and Dennis Nickelson. Both men supported passage of the two school-related questions on Tuesday’s ballot.

She suggested it might be possible — with more public education and outreach — to change voters’ minds. "Maybe they need some more information," Sweeney said. As the election results became more clear Tuesday evening, Sweeney said she believed the Board of Education would still need to seek solutions to the district’s challenges. "The lack of space for students needs to be addressed," she said. "That’s an immediate concern."

What’s next?

In a letter posted online Wednesday to parents and the community, Superintendent Brian Mitchell wrote: "Ultimately, Tuesday’s losses hurt. My first concern is how will the losses negatively impact students. The limited space issue that we face is very real. It must be addressed. The major components of the levy issue must be studied."

In an interview Thursday, Mitchell said the Board of Education and members of the Citizens for Excellence in Education campaign committee met numerous times with parents, civic groups and church groups to explain the district’s needs for more space and resources for students.

"We spent three and a half years studying this, trying in a lot of different ways to engage the community in conversation by sharing information and getting feedback. I feel good about the process we went through. I’m proud of our community members and staff who spent time doing that research," he said. "The intent was to help us be better ... and to do it in a way that would be beneficial to the community at large."

While he was "pleased" with all the work that went into the campaign, he added: "Obviously ... the election results indicate we didn’t do enough of something."

He said his group’s next step will be to pose some rigorous questions to the school district’s patrons and gather their thoughts on what ought to be done.

Mitchell said: "I don’t believe our community doesn’t care about education or kids. I don’t believe they aren’t willing to support these issues. I hope they believe we work hard every day" to do what’s best for children.

"Hopefully, we’ll have a better idea of what our patrons didn’t feel was good enough to support, and we’ll see what adjustments we can make."

On election night, he said school leaders and campaign supporters have not yet discussed the second school option.

"At this point, we’re going to spend a little time finding out as much as we can about what voters didn’t like about this plan," he said. "We’re not going to rush back and try something the same, or different."

Mitchell said it’s likely the district will conduct another survey to suss out voters’ thoughts and emotions. He said the election revealed "results," but not the "rationale behind the results."

David Luther, assistant to the superintendent, said, going forward, district administrators are going to be listening to individuals and groups. "We’re open to plenty of discussion, and we’re happy to initiate those talks. But if others want to invite us, we’ll be there, too."

Work on academies under way

Regardless of how facilities for senior high students are handled down the road, both men said the district is committed to pursuing academies. Under the academies approach, the high school would be arranged into seven "career academies," each devoted to a different field of study. All students will still receive a general education. But in the Health Sciences academy, students probably would take anatomy and physiology, and in the Industrial Engineering academy, they likely would take physics.

"We’re committed to the academies," Luther said. "We’ll be spending time helping families understand how the model works."

School administrators have about a year and a half of planning in front of them before implementation, Mitchell said. "We are in the process of identifying what spaces in our existing buildings will be dedicated to the career academies. And our planning committees are looking at the process for student selection," he added.

A pocketbook issue?

Whitehead said he was proud of the hard work both the Excellence in Education campaign committee and the board put into trying to get the initiatives to pass.

"The complexity of it is, we have a good plan that could be great. The plan was affordable, yet it offered the opportunity for a world-class education," he said.

Whitehead said he fears the next proposal — if it involves a new state-of-the-art senior high and an extensive renovation at the existing campus — realistically cannot be done for less than the 55-cent increase voters soundly rejected Tuesday.

"If our next step is two schools, we’re going to be at a higher number ... higher than we’re asking tonight," he said the night of the election.

Whitehead said board members knew, as they crafted their plan, tax increases are a pocketbook issue for many people who can’t afford to pay more property taxes.

"We tried to keep it the lowest cost possible and still try to deliver a world-class education," he said.

Marc Backes, a supporter of the Excellence in Education campaign, said the district still faces very real problems that will have to be addressed.

"These are not the supporters’ kids. These are not the opponents’ kids. These are our kids. Our energy is best spent toward finding a constructive solution — together," he said.


School issue opponents offer to work for future

By Kris Hilgedick

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Four people who support building a second senior high — as opposed to a constructing a single high school to replace the existing campus — stepped forward Monday night to announce their willingness to help the Jefferson City Board of Education plan for future growth.

A fifth speaker lamented the loss of an opportunity last week to provide a higher-quality learning environment for the districts.

They delivered their remarks in an open forum at the board’s regularly scheduled meeting Monday night. Their comments came in the wake of last Tuesday’s election, when voters rejected the board’s plan to build a replacement high school by more than two votes to one.

Rod Burnett, a co-leader of the "Citizens for 2 Public High Schools" campaign, told the board: "I will volunteer to be on any future planning committee. I know there is a valid need there. I look forward to being involved."

Dan Ortmeyer, Burnett’s co-leader, said that "the entire community needs to be involved in this process."

Jackie Coleman, a former member of the Jefferson City School Board, said she wants to help, as well. "I’m looking forward to making sure we’re doing the best thing for our kids."

Harold Coots, who ran unsuccessfully for a school board seat, said he spoke out against the plan for a single, replacement high school because he didn’t feel it was the best plan for future growth.

"And not just because it was a tax," he said.

One resident — Lisa May, mother of a sixth-grader in the district — expressed her dismay that voters rejected a plan that would have provided more and better resources for children and teens in the district.

"Jefferson City condemned its own children to an unsafe, overcrowded and unproductive learning environment," May said.

Also on Monday, the board heard a presentation from businessman Larry Potterfield, owner of Midway USA, a wholesaler of hunting- and gun-related products. The Columbia-based company markets its products online and via catalogs to more than 1 million customers both in the USA and overseas.

Potterfield’s company was the 2009 winner of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Potterfield himself is an enthusiastic proponent of the Baldrige Program, a public-private partnership that teaches

organizations — like the Jefferson City Public Schools, but also private corporations and non-profits — how to excel by sharing best-management practices, principals and strategies.

The program, and the award, are named after Malcolm Baldrige, who served as U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Ronald Reagan.

Distilled to its essence, Potterfield said the Baldrige program helps organizations improve and succeed by posing a series of "really, really tough questions."

The program is being promoted by the Missouri School Boards Association as a way to help districts improve student achievement.

Potterfield said the program teaches leaders 30 distinct leadership and management principles. Those principles include ideas like "maintaining an effective mission statement" and "understanding the core competencies of your organization and develop new ones."

"All you have to do is these 30 things right, and I can tell you, you’ll achieve great results," Potterfield told the school board.

Superintendent Brian Mitchell has been involved in bringing the tenets of the Baldrige Program to Jefferson City.

"It’s all about continuous improvement and making sure we are doing everything we can to be better," Mitchell said.

In other business Monday, the board:

• Adopted a calendar for the 2013-14 school year.

• Congratulated JCHS assistant principal Andrew Runzi on completing his doctoral degree in education.

• Recognized outgoing board president Joy Sweeney for her contributions.

• Administered the oath of office to re-elected members Doug Whitehead and Dennis Nickelson.

• Elected Tami Turner as board president; Nickelson as vice president; and Whitehead as treasurer.


Your Opinion: Revisit second public high school 

Larry Folkins, Jefferson City

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dear Editor:

The defeat of the school bond issue and levy was really not a surprise. Yes, not many of us like to see our taxes raised during difficult economic times. However, there was an over-riding feeling that patrons did not want to continue with a single large high school. I sincerely hope that the Board of Education and staff will begin discussions and planning for a second high school and also for appropriate upgrades to the existing high school.

I was serving as a principal in the Raytown School District when Raytown South was opened in 1961 and the old high school was later remodeled for continued use. In 1971 I was serving as an administrator in the Springfield School District and helped open Kickapoo High School. The very old Central High School is still being used. Over the years the other schools, Hillcrest, Parkview and Glendale have had remodeling and additions to them. Parkview has a good football stadium that all the high schools use and through the years the other high schools have added appropriate seating and areas for tennis, soccer, track and field. Columbia has kept Hickman High School even as they now build their third high school.

Research shows that a good size for a high school is around 1,000 students. I have a grandson that attends St. Charles West High School that has just under 1,000 students, and the much older St. Charles High School has about 1,000 students.

I also have a granddaughter that attends Parkway West High School that has around 1,000 students. Her father is a graduate of JC as are my other three children. I wish they could have attended a smaller school but they received excellent instruction by the staff and were well prepared for college. There are many small schools in our state that do a good job of educating their students and that also provide the opportunity for many to participate in extracurricular activities.

Again, I believe the community will respond to an appropriate proposal to build a second high school, remodel and upgrade the existing high school, and explore ways to best provide instruction to serve all the students.


Your Opinion: Academies opposed; don’t narrow options

Tom Treiman, Holts Summit

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dear Editor:

I voted against the high school bond issue because I wasn’t given a chance to vote against the change that I really oppose. The academies.

I attended the first public meeting at North School and followed the campaign closely. The academies were always presented as a done deal. No matter what happened, we were going to be stuck with this latest fad. The election shows that the Jefferson City Public Schools (JCPS) did not do a good job listening to the public about their plans, so please listen now. We are not stuck with the academies if JCPS administration decides we are not.

What’s wrong with academies?

Eighth graders are, for the most part, not ready to commit to much of anything for the next four years. Rather than narrowing their prospects, schools should be exposing them to the widest range of possibilities. Academies will, by definition, limit students’ educational opportunities. That’s their point.

Children change their interests and their minds — and that is a good thing. Hopefully they keep this open mindedness for the rest of their lives. Academies come off as the latest education-ese fad. Remember new math, multi-age, project-based learning, block scheduling, multiple intelligences and so on? Most of those didn’t last either.

Industrial and Engineering Technology, Health Services, Human Services, Business Management and Technology and so on? The names of the proposed academies read like a list of the latest buzzwords from a well-paid consultant — and are just as certain to fade away when the next best-selling advice book comes out. Schools serve a far greater purpose than to prepare students for jobs in the local economy. Our schools need to be turning out students who know how to learn and love to do it.

Want good results? Try well-paid, well-treated and well-respected teachers in well-built, well-equipped classrooms with good material and not too many students.

After the election, Dr. Mitchell said JCPS had to go back and "find out what the public didn’t like." Please listen this time! Don’t just change the name to Pathways or The JC Model. Are you familiar with the economic concept of sunk costs — don’t throw good money after bad. Just because you’ve spent a lot of time and effort on a misdirected idea does not make that idea right. It takes a lot of courage to change direction, but it needs to be done.

Your Opinion: Two high schools favored; academies opposed 

Tom Durham Holts Summit : Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dear Editor: I would like to address two letters on the recent vote for the Jefferson City school district. The first dealt with the concept of two schools. I am in complete agreement with this. I feel a megaschool is a very bad concept and I believe it would reduce the quality of education while extending the travel time for the students to reach school. I feel a new school south and west for that area while retaining the old school with renovations as needed for the students east and north makes more sense. I also was disappointed that the school board incumbents were re-elected as I fell these people are incapable of accepting an idea they do not agree with and are also incapable of giving consideration to ideas they are not prepared to accept. They won’t listen. As far as this academy concept is concerned I fully agree with the assessment by the second letter as to the undesirable effects of this tunneling students into specific fields too early. I feel the first two years of high school should be more across the aisle type of education (ability to understand some of what a person specialized in a certain field not your own is saying) architect, engineer, construction, administration for example — the last two more specialized. Also further schooling should be added for those not interested in college that then would be specific to a particular field. This would have to be worked out with various schools for twoyear associate programs depending upon the final goal. Schools like Linn Tech, Lincoln, MU and also smaller schools as appropriate. Such schooling would be like various health care technologies that are coming on, radiology, nursing etc. but also filling the need for trade education at various levels. Just an idea of how to keep up with advances made by other countries.


Let Your Voice Be Heard Vote NO April 2nd

To the Tax payers and Citizens of the Jefferson City School district, six of the seven School Board members voted to proceed with placing the “Mega School Plan” on the April 2 ballot. Marie Peoples is the only school board member that had the fortitude to say no to this plan.  Thank you Marie.

The most important action to soundly defeat the Plan is that to VOTE. We need to send a clear message to the elected School Board officials by voting No to a Mega High School for our community. This is the School Boards’ Plan, not the tax payers.  We must get out the vote. Please make sure you or anyone you know who will be out of town April 2 to vote early by absentee. Also, remind your children attending college to vote absentee. 

Vote NO on Question 1 to increase the operating tax levy of the District by $0.25 per one hundred dollars assessed valuation

Vote No on Question 2 to increase to the debt service levy of $0.30 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation, incur indebtedness and issue its general obligation bonds in the amount of $79,000,000 for the purpose of constructing a new senior high school facility and a new elementary school facility

The Mega School is not the right plan for the future of our community.

We support a two-high school plan.
The two $13,000 each (2011, 2012) surveys overwhelmingly showed that the community favors two high schools. The second survey (2012) did not even ask the question about a second high school. When asked by the surveyors if there was anything patrons would like to add, multiple times patrons responded with “What about a second high school?". The school district stated that the 2011 survey is now two years old and it isn't a barometer of public interest anymore. Two high schools will offer more opportunities for students and create better student to teacher ratios. Two high schools will be a better drawing card for economic development. Two high schools offer more opportunity in extracurricular activities. Most people do not want their children in a 3000 plus student high school. Why is Blair Oaks growing so rapidly?

Put a “No Mega High School” sign in your yard and let your voice be heard.

We are starting a Yard Sign Campaign and need your support/ contributions to help fund this initiative. Please click on the Contribution Tab at the top of the page. You can contribute online or mail us the contribution sheet along with your check to the PO Box address.

We encourage you to vote for only one candidate, Harold Coots for School Board April 2nd. We need change on the School Board so endorse Harold with your vote.

Absentee voting begins February 19 and runs through April 1.
To request an absentee ballot for Cole County,
Click Here.
March 6 is the deadline to register to vote for the April 2nd election
CALLAWAY counties.

Citizens for 2 Public High Schools
Dan Ortmeyer & Jackie Coleman interview
(News Radio KWOS) Aired 3/27/2013 Link Below

Letters To The Editor

Your Opinion: Single school proposal opposed

Dan Ortmeyer, Jefferson City

Friday, March 29, 2013

Dear Editor:

I favor the two high school approach and will vote no on Question 1 and 2. I am a Jefferson City High School alumni and very proud of the history and tradition of the school.

I also believe establishing another high school provides the opportunity for new traditions to be developed and history to be made in our community.

What drove me to action was the perception voiced by community members that the one large high school proposal was the only option truly being considered by the school board. The other options were merely treated as throwaways without legitimate consideration. Even though the school board’s own phone survey indicated the citizens of Jefferson City favored a two high school solution by 74 percent this solution was never seriously explored.

Citizens were queried for their input and then the results summarily ignored by our elected school board officials. School board members are elected to represent the will of the people.

So now we approach the April 2 election and the democratic process finally takes over. The one large high school option will be up for a vote by the people of the Jefferson City Public School district. Do the citizens of this school district want a 3,000 to 3,500 student high school? We are the largest student body in the state of Missouri now. When will it be time to build a second high school? We already have two middle schools with boundary lines in the district.

If the proposal passes, I, like all good citizens will line up and support the will of the voters. If the proposal fails to pass, the elected officials of the school board should show sound leadership and finally listen to the citizens and focus on developing and passing a legitimate two high school proposal.

We do have a choice.

Link to Printable PDF file: Your Opinion Single school proposal opposed Dan Ortmeyer.pdf

Your Opinion: Board has not listened

Jackie Coleman, Jefferson City

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Dear Editor:

I urge you to vote no to Questions 1 and 2 on April 2. Voting no sends a message to the Board of Education that voters want input in the future of public education in our community. As a 15-year former member of the JCPS Board of Education, I am concerned about the board’s lack of transparency in developing their proposed Mega High School Plan. The JCPS Board of Education has not listened to the community regarding a two high school option or the concern with academies.

The community first learned about the board’s intent to sell Nichols Career Center, Jefferson City High School, Simonsen and Adkins Stadium in an article published in the News Tribune April 2012. In an 11-month period, starting April 2012 the board brokered deals to sell our heritage, purchase land to build a Mega High School, and pursued an expensive marketing campaign to force their plan on voters. In contrast, when the two middle schools were built the Board of Education presented a plan to the community. This process took several years and included voters every step of the way. Why is this JCPS Board of Education taking such a different approach?

The JCPS Board of Education has not articulated a comprehensive plan to explain staff development in preparation for academies. Furthermore, there has not been sufficient information to support students entering a career track or how a student can exit the career track if it turns out to be a poor match. Equally vague is the explanation the board has given regarding the inclusion of the vocational technical education component.

Asking taxpayers to incur an $80 million tax increase for a plan that has too many unanswered questions is not the way to build the rigor, relevance, and relationship that the school board keeps touting.

I will be voting no on Questions 1 and 2. Let your voice be heard on April 2.

Link to Printable PDF file: Your Opinion Board has not listened Jackie Coleman.pdf

Your Opinion: Educational ‘experiment’ opposed

Tim Stallman, Jefferson City

Friday, March 29, 2013

Dear Editor:

Jefferson City deserves two public high schools.

Voters should vote a resounding no on April 2 to both Question 1 and Question 2. Ultimately, both ballot questions concern a 100 million dollar experiment using our kids as the lab rats.

The current school board’s thought process epitomizes a phenomena called “groupthink” where a small group of people, insulated from the public, reach a conclusion based on emotion, not reason, and then proceed to look for evidence to support their false ideas. Once a group consensus is reached, any other ideas are quickly dismissed.

During the public meetings that were held, you could see in their body language that they were not really interested in the taxpayer’s opinions. They were only interested in promoting their highly experimental and unproven “JC academies” concept.

The JC academies idea they are attempting to sell to the taxpayers is just another educational fad that will not exist five years from now. It will be the educational version of the hoola hoop fad in the 1950s.

We will be stuck with $100 million worth of buildings that are designed around a fad that will be discredited. Our children should not be the lab rats for an unproven and dangerous educational theory.

So called experts in the educational field often fall victim to what is currently fashionable and other untested ideas. The JC academies concept is just the latest incarnation. To design an entire $100 million high school around such a fleeting fad is irresponsible and dismissive of taxpayers.

Should this pass, the board will sell the current high school for a measly $8 million. This is a complete give away. It is worth more than that. For this reason alone both questions should be defeated.

A second high school should be built on the site which has already been purchased.

For the reasons listed above, voters should reject both Question 1 and Question 2.

Jefferson City has grown and needs two public high schools. We should celebrate that fact and get on with it.

Link to Printable PDF file: Your Opinion Educational experiment opposed Tim Stallman.pdf

Your Opinion: Questions about high school proposal

Dennis Morrissey, Jefferson City

Monday, January 21, 2013

Dear Editor:

The school board plans to build a new school and sell existing facilities, including the athletic facilities. I am sympathetic to all the boosters that paid good money to renovate athletic facilities. The board spent $3.1 million for land and indicated voters will be asked to pass a bond issue to build the new school. Shouldn’t we voters have decided if we want or can afford a new school before land was purchased?

A few years ago the school board told us we needed to approve a bond issue to build Lawson. The bond issue failed but the board found money to build the school anyway. Is a levy increase even needed to build a new high school? After all, Jefferson City derives extra revenue because many students attend parochial schools.

The board and school administrators plan to implement an academies approach to education. They don’t even know, or seem to care about, the cost to implement academies but say it will be done whether or not a new school is built. Shouldn’t someone/everyone know the cost before implementation? Again, voters had no say.

The academies model is a four-decades-old concept that requires freshmen to select a career path and work in groups to solve problems. It has been said the academies approach will reduce the dropout rate. This may be true but, will good students suffer in the group process by doing all the work?

Will students acquire basic math, reading and writing skills in the academy approach that will be needed in an individualistic college classroom. How many extra teachers will be needed for each subject? Will students be able to function as individuals after being taught to work in groups? Will this process educate students or teach them a vocation? Shouldn’t students get a basic education before they specialize? What assurances are there that academies will be better than the current educational process?

Building a new school to match an academies model seems like a big gamble that academies are the answer. Are we really sure seven academy buildings will be cheaper than a second high school? Are academies good for students or just a fad? Why hasn’t the board done financial analysis and disclosed the cost of academies.

I urge you to carefully consider whether to support an $80 million bond request for a new school.

 Your Opinion: Concerns, questions about school proposal 

Charles Bolfing Jefferson City

Dear Editor: A few different thoughts the public and I have about the new academy high school. This project is going to cost $80 million. We were told the new Cole county jail would cost $19 million. Final cost of the jail was approximately $33 million. Get the picture?
How many 14-year-old students know what they are going to be doing for the rest of their life? I thought high school was to give students a broad background education to help be prepared for any situation.
Bricks, mortar, and fancy buildings do not make a good school. It is the directions set forth by the school board, administrations, teachers and parent support.
For example: Blair Oaks High School.
If the present structures are good enough for Linn Tech and Lincoln University, then why are they not good enough for the Jefferson City Public Schools? I understand that Adkins Stadium is also in this deal. Not only did Coach Adkins put Jefferson City in the national spotlight in sports, but he and his wife are dedicated supporters of disabled veterans and deceased veterans’ families. How disrespectful to the Adkins.
In my entire life I have seen this tactic being used by our school board several times. Buy the land first, and contract to sell the present facility. Then the voters have no choice but to approve a bond issue. Yes, we have a choice.
I know we need more classrooms and want to keep one high school, so why not build another structure just west of the present facility for 25 percent or less of the cost of the academy. How many people live in Jefferson City who are retired and live on a fixed income and don’t have the means to pay extra taxes? Also, if you are a renter, don’t expect your landlord to pick up the tab for the extra tax. If we combine this tax increase with all the other taxes our state and federal government want to increase, where does it stop? It stops here.
We have a choice.

Your Opinion: Two public high schools favored

Karen Terkelsen, Jefferson City

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Dear Editor:

There are two issues I would like to address in the matter of one high school vs. two high schools for Jefferson City.

First, there is the matter of the proposed academy school. I don’t believe the academies would meet the needs of our students. There is more to know and learn now than ever before. Paradoxically, the more there is to know, the more we need to get back to basics: reading, writing, ‘arithmetic,’ history, science, research, including using books, and computer technology.

I don’t believe that an academy school’s curriculum design could keep up with rapid changes in jobs or other areas. Sophomores are enrolled in a specific program set on a rigid track. There are many sophomores who don’t know what they want to do or be, and aren’t even aware of the options that are and will be out there in four years when they graduate. If they are solid in the basics, they will be able to go any direction they choose. The world will teach them the rest. It is nice to be able to use a scientific calculator, but there is something to be said for actually knowing the times tables.

Second, how do we answer the question, “Which is more important to the children, families, and citizens of Jefferson City — academics or sports?” For years the answer has been sports.

Maybe it’s time to change the answer to academics and we should refurbish the existing high school and build another one in order to have two smaller schools wherein more students will have opportunities to participate in various activities.

There would be two teams in every sport giving more athletes a chance to play. Two high schools would better address the issue of future enrollment growth.

If the district decides on the one academy school we will be following some educational fad that will soon go out of favor and become obsolete; and in a few years the school will be overcrowded. Our students will be housed in an outdated facility. (Remember team-teaching and open-pods?) But, we will still have just one football team and one basketball team for Jefferson City. If the answer is still sports all of this effort will have been an exercise in futility and we will be no better off than we are now.

This issue will be on the ballot in April. I, for one, will be voting to two high schools; smaller student bodies, more opportunities, a more traditional curriculum, easier parking, and less expense.

Bentonville School Article

Click on the link below to view the Article and Video

Parents React to Bentonville School Board Decision

By: Nina Criscuolo Updated: October 18, 2011


The Bentonville School Board has decided not to build a second high school. Now parents in the district are speaking out.

Currently more than 36-hundred kids pack the Bentonville High School.

By 2020 that number is expected rise above five-thousand students. To ease the crowding the school board voted to build a ninth grade center.

Bentonville voters will have the last say on this issue and right now some are not happy with the option the school board is putting on the ballot. Of the folks who spoke before the board Monday night, the majority wanted a second high school and worry a ninth grade center is only a band-aid fix.

"Past time for two high school definitely," says Kisheen Miller.

"I just feel like a ninth grade center is a short-term solution to a long-term problem," says Wendi Cheatham. "It's not a ninth grade academy, it's an expanded high school. It's going to be a 53-hundred student population high school."

"They're disappointed immensely." says board member Travis Riggs. "They were disappointed we didn't do it last time, so now a second time we've said no."

He spear-headed the argument for a second high school.

"We told the community when we voted on this last time, we would come back and give you the question of a second high school and basically we didn't do that," says Riggs.

He and Willie Cowgur were out-number by the five other board members, lead by Bryan Vernetti, who says he wanted a ninth grade center for economic reasons.

"We're going to try to do the best job we can taking into account, not only the quality of education, but also the impact that the school system has on the tax payers budgets," says Vernetti.

Tuesday, parents who agree with the decision seem to be the minority.

"I was hoping they would go that way, so I'm happy," says Cherlyn Jenson.

Meaning the school district may have a big hurdle getting voters to back their choice.

"I think it's going to take a lot of convincing from the school board and the people who do want a ninth grade center to change my mind and other people's minds that the ninth grade center's the way to go,' says mother Deanna Moser.

"Boy, I don't know. We'll see how it goes," says Riggs.

The ninth grade center would cost tax payers about 60-million dollars, which breaks down to about 150-dollars in property taxes for someone with a 200-thousand dollar house. Bentonville folks will head to the polls this spring.

A group of parents at the Monday meeting say they will form an opposition to the millage vote for a ninth grade center.



Link to Printable PDF file: Parents React to Bentonville School Board Decision FB_1.pdf

Concerned Citizens for Two High Schools. 
We support renovating Jefferson City High School and building a new high school.

Academy Educational Trend Concerns:

Before we invest $80+M in facilities driven solely by an educational methodology, let’s be sure we have the data and facts to predict the success rate of academies.  What are the risk mitigation steps that have been taken?   

  • Are there schools/academies comparable to the JC Academy plan, with population size of the 300-500 students per academy?
  • Is there a direct comparison where the only public high school in the district is academy-based?
  • How many examples of successful academies with supporting data to verify their increased performance are we using to make this decision?
  • Most organizations will run a successful pilot program to validate expected outcomes prior to investing heavily in a process, product, or program.  Do we have that much data proving that this educational trend is risk free, therefore, no pilot required?
  • What are the high performing Missouri traditional high schools doing differently from JCHS?  Academies?
  • What is the educational plan to improve elementary and middle school performance outcomes to enhance high school performance? 

Staffing Concerns:

Does the academy model require more staffing than a traditional two high school approach? Yes. The academy model currently has 205 teachers assigned for 2700 students.  If the student population is split into two high schools there is existing staff positions that can be allocated to both schools. Numerous Missouri high schools with 1,400 students operate with between 75-90 teachers.

  • Traditional high schools with a student enrollment of 2700 and greater operate at a much lower staffing level than 205.  No Missouri high school examples are given because there are no other Missouri high schools with a larger student enrollment than 2,700.  Kansas largest high school is Manhattan HS with 2,073 students.
    • Hinsdale Central High School, Hinsdale, IL – 2,755 students – 168 teachers
    • Oak Park and Riverforest High School, Oak Park, IL – 3182 students - 193 teachers
    • Maine South High School, Park Ridge, Il– 2,626 students – 171 teachers
    • York Comm High School, Elmhurst, Il – 2,624 students – 166 teachers
  • What are the special training requirements for academy teachers?  Can they be achieved and maintained?
  • Academy model requires 8+ principals plus supporting staff for each academy and campus administration.

Facility/Cost Concerns:

  • What is the cost of 1 campus?
  • 1 academy at 45,000sf X $per sf = ?
    7 academies at 45,000sf X $per sf = ?
    Campus Center - Admin/Food service = How many sf./estimate?
    Fleming Fieldhouse = ?
    Stadium = ?
    Weber Athletic Training Center = ?
    Soccer Complex = ?
    Baseball Complex = ?
    Parking = ?
  • Campus Security Requirement and Cost?
  • Current student population is approximately 2,670. What is the projected annual growth rate? What will the projected population be in 10-15 years?
  • What is the maximum student population planned for the one campus plan?
  • When will a second high school be required?

What is the cost of renovating Jefferson City High School and building a new high school?

  • Details of $25M renovation of the existing high school?

            25 Million dollar renovation details

            The report received from the Mo. State School Board Association states that the 25 million dollar renovation for JC does not include air conditioning.
            This renovation would occur when a second high school is built. We want to know what is in the details of this renovation for 25 million.

  • Examples of recently built Missouri high schools:
    • Camdenton HS = $36M
    • Battle HS = $75M
    • Sedalia HS = $30M
  • For a two high school option, what is the square footage planned/estimated for a new high school and at what cost per sq ft ?
Link to Printable PDF file.

School board filing closes
Harold Coots faces two incumbents                       

News Tribune 1/16/2013                                                                                              

A third candidate has announced a willingness to serve on the Jefferson City Board of Education. Harold F. Coots of Lohman said he is interested in representing voters who believe two high schools — as opposed to one — is the right direction to go.
In the election scheduled for April 2, Coots will face incumbents Doug Whitehead and Dennis Nickelson, who announced their intentions to run again in mid-December. Of the three candidates who have filed, two will be elected to serve three-year terms. The filing period closed at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Coots, 52, was raised in Cole County and graduated from Jefferson City High School in 1978. He then attended Central Missouri State University (now University of Central Missouri) where he graduated in 1982 with a degree in drafting technology.
He now works as a project manager for the Missouri Office of Administration, Facilities Management and Design and Construction, where he oversees construction projects.
He has two sons who attend Jefferson City High School, and a daughter who graduated from Helias High School.
When asked why he is interested in running, Coots replied that he noticed only incumbents were interested in serving on the board. “If there’s no change in the school board, you don’t have much of a choice,” he said.
Although the board is expected on Thursday to propose two tax increases — which, if passed, would make it possible for the board to move forward with their current plan to build a single new high school east of Missouri 179 — Coots said it’s a topic he’s interested in addressing, if elected.
Coots said he thinks the current high school is too big now. “And to go to a bigger school would just compound what I already see as a problem,” he said.
He is not opposed to the board’s decision to move forward with career academies, a plan to put students on a track into the workforce by dividing them into seven smaller learning communities of about 300 to 500 students. Each of the seven academies would be dedicated to a different career field, such as “Industrial & Engineering Technology” or “Human Services.”
“I haven’t heard anything bad about academies. I have no objection to it,” Coots said. “It might be a better system.”

Link to Printable PDF file.

School board to consider bond election  

Security issue could draw public comment

By Kris Hilgedick 1/16/2013

After years of discussing the need for a new high school and another elementary school, the Jefferson City Board of Education is poised to place a 55-cent tax increase on April 2 ballot at its Thursday meeting.
The 6 p.m. meeting is scheduled at the Dix Road Education Center, 204 Dix Road.
According to the posted agenda, the board will consider calling an election to issue general obligation bonds — which would increase local taxes an additional 30 cents — and increase the operating tax levy by 25 cents.
The current tax rate for the Jefferson City School District is $3.6770 per $100 of assessed valuation.
The first proposal would generate an additional $2.5 million for the district, money Superintendent Brian Mitchell said could be used to improve transportation for high school students; purchase additional safety and security equipment throughout the district; offer more professional development opportunities for faculty; and buy additional technology.
The 30-cent increase would generate a revenue stream that would allow the district to issue $79 million in bonds, money that would be used to finance a new high school east of Missouri 179 and a new elementary school on Jefferson City’s eastern end.
“It’s a big decision,” Mitchell said.
He said over the past three years, board leaders have worked to identify the district’s needs and examine options regarding how to address those needs, evaluating the pros and cons. “Ultimately, it gets us to Thursday night,” he said.
Mitchell said the district’s student population has grown to a point where both Simonsen 9th Grade Center and the Jefferson City High School campus are “out of space.”
“It’s going to be overcrowded in a very short period of time,” he said. “The most costeffective approach is through this option.”
Mitchell was referring to the board’s proposal to build a single new high school to replace the existing campus at 609 Union St.
Six of the board’s seven board members have supported a proposal to build one new high school. Under the board’s plan, the new high school would feature career academies. Each academy would house between 300 and 500 students. But board members have also said the decision to move forward with the career academies is independent of the decision to build a new high school and will be implemented regardless.
One board member, Marie Peoples, has raised concerns about the single-new-highschool approach.
However, she will not be able to attend Thursday’s meeting to register her vote. “I regret that I am unable to be a part of the discussion and vote on the ballot language, but I have to travel out of town for work,” she said.
Peoples, who serves as director of the Cole County Health Department, will be attending a mentoring program sponsored by the National Association of City and County Health Officials in San Antonio.
“The January board meeting dates have changed a couple of times and I could not accommodate the Thursday night meeting,” she lamented.
Peoples said she is not in favor of putting the bond and operating levy tax increases to a vote this week.
“I still have concerns that one mega school does not best serve the academic needs of all students,” she said.
Also on Thursday, the board is expected to certify the ballot of board candidates to the county clerks’ offices. Three people — incumbents Dennis Nickelson and Doug Whitehead and newcomer Harold Coots — have filed for the two available seats.
The board is not expected to make any specific decisions about security issues within the school, but the language of the proposed ballot language could refer to allocating some funding for security measures.
Last week, leaders with a local private security firm, J & J Security and Investigations, said they plan to attend the meeting to implore board members to consider hiring armed guards to protect students.
Mitchell said they would be allowed to address the board during its open forum. Under board policy, people who attend the meetings may speak only about listed agenda items.
“I do not anticipate any issues with patrons speaking to” safety and security issues, Mitchell said.

Link to Printable PDF file.

We have compiled a list of questions we feel need to be answered for the tax payers.
We would like you the public to ask these questions to the school board and administrators. Please come prepared with your own questions also.

Questions and Concerns for the school board.

Academy Related:

a.       What was the student population sizes of the schools/academies visited? How many students were in each academy?

b.      Do those schools have data showing that the approach has been academically successful?

c.       Currently the process to drop a course for high school students is difficult. How will changing an entire academy program be easier?

d.      What if too many students want to be in a particular academy? What is the process for determining prioritization of students placed in academies?

e.      What measures are in place to assure equity in gender, race, and income across all of the academies?

f.        If the bond and levy initiative does not pass does the district plan on moving forward with academies?

g.       All of the evidence that I have read indicated academies is more expensive to implement due to cross-training teachers, other curriculum and professional development, student field trips related to their career academy, and most importantly, initiating the community-business partnerships. Is there a total cost for this approach that encompasses all components?  What is the difference in required teachers for an academy approach and a traditional high school education approach.

2.       Facilities Related:

a.       What is the student population thresh-hold for the mega-school?

a.       Once the thresh-hold is reached how will it be dealt with? (add on? New school? Trailers?)

b.      Of the schools visited what was their population size?

a.       How did their community demographics compare to ours? 

  i.      How did their academic test scores compare to ours?

c.       How will security be handled? What is the cost?

d.      Can both the mega high school and a second high school question be added to the ballot to allow voters to select the best option?

e.      How many more teachers/administrators would be needed in a two-high school model?

f.        How many more teachers/administrators would be needed in a mega-high school model? (Will at least need administrators and support staff for each of the 7 academies/buildings.)

g.       How do transportation costs differ for a mega-school and a second high school?

h.      Have staff surveys been conducted to determine if staff supports a mega-school approach?

i.         What will be done with the alternative high school in the mega-school approach? Will it still be stand alone?

j.        Facilities decisions should be based on optimal outcomes for students. What evidence supports that a mega-school facilitates students achieving rigor, relevance, and relationships?

a.       More importantly, what is the evidence that supports this is a better approach than two-high schools where a smaller learning community is real, not simulated?

k.       Vocational education has not been well described in a mega-school approach. How will vocational education be addressed?

a.       What vocational education programs will be offered?

b.      What if a student in a vocational education program does not want to be in a career academy?

c.       How will this impact sending schools? Can those students take only a vocational education course or will they be integrated into an academy?


The academy methodology sounds great on paper but it is another education “Trend”.  Education has trends come and go.  There have been multiple trends that have come and gone.  In 8-10 years and a new administration there will be another “Trend” come along.  Do we want this trend to drive expensive facility decisions.

Do 8th graders and even 9-12th grade students know what they want to be or what their interest are? 

Academies will make smaller learning groups.   But why not have two schools making the academies even smaller learning groups.  Quit losing 25% of our students that struggle to adapt to large populations and are not eligible to get into Jefferson City Academic Center (JCAC).  JCAC is an alternative educational setting for students who are at-risk of not graduating. 

JCAC is great and has saved more than a couple of hundred students.  I believe that two smaller high schools will save even more.

How do they keep each academy equal in size?

How will they choose teachers for each academy?  How many teachers are needed to operate two separate campuses vs one campus?

2 schools provide 2x’s the opportunity to participate

2 schools become a smaller and unified community

Will the academies still run on Block Scheduling?

Cost of operating two separate schools versus one?

Cost of initial construction for two separate schools versus one?

How would this have an impact on AP courses for college credit?  Cost?  Efficiency?

Is there an advantage of two schools for better opportunity for students involved in Athletics, Music, Theatre, Clubs and many more.  More teams mean more participants, more memories etc. 

Provide a feeling of not being just one in a crowd, a needle in a hay stack so to speak.

If Linn Tech and Lincoln are allowed to purchase JC, Nichols Career Center, Simonsen and Adkins Stadium the tax payers will be financing this sale for up to eight years on our tax dollars. How do you feel about financing state entities for the purchase of these properties on your tax dollars. The $10.1 million dollar fire sale price is an insult to the tax payers of this district. The tax payers of the Jefferson City School District are not in the Mortgage business.

LU, Linn State to buy JC campuses (Deal Lease-Purchase)
Mitchell explained: "It's like a mortgage."

LU, Linn State to buy JC campuses
Deal hinges on passage of bond issue, levy increase
By Kris Hilgedick Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Officials at Linn State Technical College and Lincoln University joined forces Monday to announce a deal to lease-purchase several public school properties from the Jefferson City School District.
On Monday, Lincoln University entered into an $8.4 million agreement to buy the current high school at 609 Union St., Simonsen Ninth Grade Center at 501 E. Miller St., and the recently renovated Adkins Stadium. Linn State Technical College entered into a $1.71 million agreement with the public schools for the purchase of Nichols Career Center.

The decision to sell the two campuses is another brick in the road local school leaders are paving in their efforts to build a new high school — a road they hope will lead to better economic opportunities for future students and a more vibrant climate for businesses. As envisioned, the new school would be a home to seven professional academies where students would learn the basics while gaining exposure to the career field that interests them.

 The decision to sell the high school comes two months after an October announcement to purchase more than 118 acres east of Missouri 179 for $3.1 million. Community leaders hailed the announcement as a way to boost the city's economy and create a "higher education corridor" along Lafayette Street. But opponents who are skeptical of the district's plan to build a new high school — as opposed to two high schools — said they'll share their concerns at the board's next meeting on Dec. 10. Both agreements are contingent on voter approval of a bond issue and levy increase. April 2 is the next opportunity to place those issues before voters, and Jan. 22, 2013, is the final certification date for that election. Although it's not yet certain which election day school board members will select, Superintendent Brian Mitchell said Monday: "April is the earliest; we'd consider it."

The Jefferson City School Board likely will be discussing the decision at both its regularly scheduled meetings in December and January. The board already has -expressed interest in putting a 55-cent tax increase before voters. Of that amount, 30 cents would be used to issue bonds — primarily to build a new high school — and 25 cents would be used to raise the district's operating levy. A simple majority vote would be enough to increase the district's operating levy, but four-sevenths of all voters in an April election must approve the bond issue for it to pass. Mitchell said, in order for the deals with Lincoln and Linn Tech to come to fruition, the district must achieve a successful bond issue.

 When — or if — that bond issue passes, the two higher education institutions would pay "earnest money" — about 20 to 25 percent of the total sale price — within 60 days for the deals to be struck. After they take possession of the buildings, Lincoln and Linn Tech would then have up to eight years to pay the remaining balance. Mitchell explained: "It's like a mortgage." The district has a two-year window to pass a bond issue and levy increase. "And at the end of two years, if it doesn't pass, we can renegotiate," school board member Alan Mudd said. The property where the high school and Nichols sit — including the football stadium, Weber Facility, the wrestling room and the maintenance shed —will be sold. The district will continue to own the practice field and driving range property south of Stadium Boulevard.

 Mudd didn't view Monday's deal as "losing" the high school. "I see it as a golden opportunity to serve the needs of our students so that we can best prepare them for the future," he said, noting that an improvement of the high school climate in Jefferson City is "long overdue."

"We have space and growth issues that have to be met," he argued. "The economy and the job market are a challenge. "We're competing for jobs not only state-wide, but nation-wide and world-wide. We've got to prepare students to meet those challenges." Mudd said winning over skeptics will be critical "to make this fly." Economically, Mudd believes the board's plan makes sense, because "operating two high schools is a much higher cost." And he noted the district — by keeping all high school students on one" campus, not two — can offer a more robust Advanced Placement program for high-achieving students.

"We have a lot of discussions between now and the (date of the) vote ... a number of questions to be resolved," he said, noting supporters of the single-high-school concept are going to have to gather support for their project and assess the voters' wishes.

The decision to sell the high school didn't appear to sit well with some former graduates. "Obviously they are moving forward with their plans that the majority of the community doesn't support," said Dan Ortmeyer, an organizer of Citizens for Two Public High Schools. Ortmeyer said the group plans to address the Jefferson City School Board at next Monday's meeting with its concerns about the size of a single high school. He sees the passage of the bond issue as a linchpin that will allow the deal to advance or die.

"This all hinges on the bond proposal. It comes down to the people voting on whatever proposal is put in front of them," he said. "There are a lot of unknowns still. "There's a lot of things to talk about." Mitchell hopes the public will give the school board's plan a chance. "The only thing we can do is share what the plan is, and why we think it's a good plan for our community," he said, adding he hopes the school board's supporters will be able to share clearly several *really solid reasons" clarifying how their plan will not only help kids grades 9-12, but also provide a tremendous benefit to the community.

"We're very respectful of the differing opinion out there," he said. Board member John Ruth described the decision to sell the old high school as a "vital" component for building a new one. Ruth hopes the community feels welcome to talk to him about the new high school. "It has to be a community effort. Anyone who has any questions, thoughts, ideas or concerns... I want folks to find me. "I hope everyone is open-minded enough to look at the same data, research and facts that I have, so that we can have a healthy discussion about what gives students a world-class education." Ruth said, as a traditional conservative, he initially was skeptical of the board's plan. But he was won over when he reviewed the facts, he said. Based on the sale of comparable properties in Missouri and nationwide, Ruth believes the district is getting a fair value. "It's in line, to the dollar, of what I'd hoped for," he said. He added he's excited about the opportunities the sale represents for Lincoln University. "To have them expand their campus and have it be such a natural fit is exciting for me," he said. And he's thrilled to be able to bring Linn State Technical College's program into Jefferson City. "It's going to be transformative," he said. "The immediate economic impact is going to be tremendous.”


Group Wants Two JC High Schools - ABC 17 News

Author: ABC 17 News Staff
Dec 10, 2012 11:38 PM

The Jefferson City Board of Education said Monday night it will hold at least two more town hall meetings to talk about future plans for Jefferson City High School.

During a regularly scheduled meeting Monday, dozens of people spoke and more than 100 showed up in support of both sides of an issue that's long-divided the community: growing to two high schools.

At times, the meeting was tense - with some speakers calling the current proposal "appalling," and alleging the school board was working against public wishes and for its own interest.

A new group has formed, Concerned Citizens for 2 Public High Schools, and gave a presentation raising questions Monday about the board's research methods and the about their acceptance of general public opinion.

According to group leader Rod Burnett, the board's initial research showed overwhelming support for two high schools. But he said that was ignored for the single campus approach.

"You can have the academy program," Burnett told ABC 17 News, "but, as I understand it, that's an educational philosophy and you don't build brick-and-mortar around that."

The group raised concerns of enrollment growth and the new campus's ability to meet those numbers decades down the road. Other speakers expressed concerns over the student population size of the new campus - which would be roughly 2800 students by the time it opened.

Under the district's current plan, a new academy-style high school campus would be built by 2016 off of Highway 179 near the new St. Mary's site. The current high school campus, Simonsen Ninth Grade Center and the Nichols Career Center would be sold to a new partnership between Lincoln University and Linn State Technical College.

Board president Joy Sweeney told ABC 17 News the board was still open to options and had requested more research be done to factor in tax amounts needed for both scenarios. But the board seemed hesitant Monday to say it would be willing to switch gears so quickly.

Two additional town hall forums are being scheduled to help gather feedback on the plans. The first could be as early as Monday, December 17

Enrollment statements in the news?

Building bond issue may loom for Jefferson City schools next year

By Bob Watson. News Tribune
Monday, January 24, 2011.

Superintendent Brian Mitchell said, the district must make some decisions about buildings, even if a consultant’s predictions of adding from 500-3,000 more students over 10 years are too optimistic.

Mitchell says the existing building can't keep up with what the district wants to do and the steady, slight increases it expects in student population over the next five and ten years.

Board Discusses Sale of School

Sep 11, 2012 8:13 PM

The board stated that enrollment increased by 300 students this school year, a significant increase for the district

JCPS Discusses Enrollment

Oct 9, 2012 7:32 PM

Increasing student enrollment is one of the main reasons for the new high school proposal.
School officials have adjusted their original figure of more than 300 new students to just about 250 this school year. Most of the growth is happening in kindergarten through third grade, which means the district is only going to keep growing.
Superintendent Brian Mitchell also showed a timeline of the major growth spurts in the district over the last 50 years.
District leaders expect to gain a couple hundred new students every year moving forward.

Jefferson City School Board Discusses New School Plans

Posted: Oct 9, 2012 7:05 PM by Amy Fenton  Updated: Oct 9, 2012 7:40 PM

At the board meeting, Luther presented the results of the survey and said it is far from what they wanted. He found residents who are not associated with the school do not understand the new program.

"We have a lot of work to do. It is not surprising that parents of student are more informed, but we need to inform the other residents as well," said Luther.

Once the community understands the program better, the school board members will apply for a bond to start building the school, and will sell the old buildings. The total cost of the new school will be about $70 million, Luther estimates. The school board hopes to have the new school done by 2014.

Two Public High Schools Not Likely, Jefferson City District Says

Posted: Nov 16, 2012 7:22 PM by Danny Spewak  Updated: Nov 16, 2012 11:19 PM

But Luther said that 2011 survey isn't necessarily a barometer of public interest.

"You can look at that, but it's two years old now," Luther said.

In 2012, Jefferson City Public Schools conducted another survey, but this time, it did not ask respondents whether they preferred one or two high schools. Instead, it focused questions more about the structure of the proposed academy system.

"I have to be frank, that question [about two high schools] wasn't really part of this second survey because the board felt they were satisfied with the single high school option," Luther said. "They felt that was the right direction to go."

LINK TO: Enrollment  JCPS 2011-12 District Budget Page 80

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Two Public High Schools Not Likely, Jefferson City District Says

Posted: Nov 16, 2012 7:22 PM by Danny Spewak
Updated: Nov 16, 2012 11:19 PM      Link:

Dan Ortmeyer, leader of “Citizens for Two Public High Schools” interview by KOMU Channel 8

"Ortmeyer said he's not backing down from the district, claiming the school district appears to have "disregarded" the response from taxpayers"

JEFFERSON CITY - The Jefferson City Public Schools' purchase of a 120-acre plot to build a new high school campus has spurred a new grassroots organization advocating two separate high schools, even though an official said Friday the school board is "very, very seriously leaning toward a single high school."

David Luther, an assistant superintendent, said the board originally discussed opening a high school at the new campus--located off Highway 179 in the western portion of the city--and renovating the current campus to serve as a second high school. Luther said that approach, however, now seems highly unlikely after further consideration from the board. Instead, the board is leaning toward selling the old campus and then splitting the new high school into an "academy" system, which would break the school into subcategories of 300 to 500 children with similar subject interests.

"They feel good about the academies. They think they can do this with a single building," Luther said. "You're talking about 2,500 to 3,000 students on one campus. But in reality, you're talking about seven different small high schools on one campus."

That's not sitting well with Dan Ortmeyer, a member of "Citizens for Two Public High Schools." He's a graduate of Jefferson City High School, but his own children attend Helias because of Ortmeyer's dissatisfaction with the public schools' overcrowding.

According to Ortmeyer's website, a survey conducted in 2011 revealed "a second public high school was favored by 48 percent of respondents," out-polling two other proposals to keep just one campus.

"We're at the bursting point as far as students," Ortmeyer said. "Just look at the numbers."

But Luther said that 2011 survey isn't necessarily a barometer of public interest.

"You can look at that, but it's two years old now," Luther said.

In 2012, Jefferson City Public Schools conducted another survey, but this time, it did not ask respondents whether they preferred one or two high schools. Instead, it focused questions more about the structure of the proposed academy system.

"I have to be frank, that question [about two high schools] wasn't really part of this second survey because the board felt they were satisfied with the single high school option," Luther said. "They felt that was the right direction to go."

Luther said the district will need both a bond and tax levy to raise money to build the new school. He said he expects the board to talk in December about the ballot language. In January, it could discuss more specifics about funding with regards to the April 2013 election.

Even if a single high school approach seems imminent,

Luther said this project involves a three-prong approach: purchasing the land, selling the old campus and then paying for construction of the new school.
So far, the district has satisfied the first requirement.

That's a process Ortmeyer said he's not happy with.

"This would be equivalent to putting Hickman up for sale before they built Rock Bridge," Ortmeyer said.
"It's time we do something to better the kids in the community."

We are a group of tax payers in the Jefferson City Mo. School District that disagree with the school boards proposal of one huge mega high school. We feel our students and community will benefit more from two public high schools. We are already operating two schools, Simonsen 9th grade ,711 students, JC grades 10, 11, 12, 1,957 students totaling 2670.

 As stated in the News Tribune article by Chris Hilgedick: “ Ortmeyer agrees with the Board of Education that the big upcoming classes in kindergarten through first grade — approximately 2,300 students are currently enrolled in the district — mean that the district must plan for future growth.”


 This issue is too important to our community. The school board needs to listen to the community regarding the future of high school education in our district. We will be asked to support the initiative in the form of higher property taxes and the district leaders must listen to the community. These are your tax dollars and you have the right to say how it is used.

We need to get this right the first time.


Contact us at the following:


Email Dan:

The article in the News Tribune recently pretty much said it all. We are the largest high school in the state of Mo when all four grades are put together.

 We are already supporting two schools, Simonsen and JC.


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