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Group Wants Two JC High Schools

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.

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