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Jackson school board sets tuition rate

The Jackson High School cheerleading team was recognized by the Jackson R-2 School Board during the board’s March 12 regular meeting. The team won a state championship and received second place at the NCA High School Nationals Championship this school year. Photo by Jay Forness

The Jackson R-2 School Board raised the district’s tuition rate for students who don’t live within the district’s borders during its regular meeting on March 12.

The tuition rate is mostly used by K-8 school districts in the area who send some of their students to Jackson High School, such as Nell Holcomb, Altenburg and Kelso C-7 school districts.

Jackson’s tuition rate will be $10,400 next school year, a 4% increase from this school year’s $10,000 rate. The district previously had a tuition rate of $9,117 during the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years.

Assistant Superintendent Matt Lacy said the district used a calculation worksheet provided by the state to see how much the district can charge for tuition. “It’s not an arbitrary number,” Lacy said.

Lacy said he had informed the superintendents of the area K-8 school districts of the recommended rate before the meeting and said he would reach out again after the new tuition rate was passed.

In other action:

• The board approved specifications to upgrade and repair the HVAC system at East Elementary School. Bids for the project are due at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, April 9, with a decision expected to be made during the school board meeting that same day.

“East Elementary is set on one system,” Assistant Superintendent Keenan Kinder said. “If the HVAC system fails, there will not be air conditioning in that building. From the day I was hired, my HVAC team said it needed to be upgraded or fixed. We believe these specs will make the system more efficient and will be a safer operating system.”

Kinder said that the district will have the option to reject all bids if they don’t receive a good bid for the project; however, the repair costs needed for the system are not practical long-term.

The project specs include increasing capacity for the system, replacing the cooling tower with a closed loop fluid cooler, replacing the cooling tower pumps with larger pumps, replacing the existing heat exchanger and improve mechanical room controls.

• District administrators presented an update on Proposition T, a 47 cent tax increase that would raise the district’s operating funding in order to give staff raises, stop program cuts and protect class sizes.

Superintendent Scott Smith said the district has given over 30 educational presentations about the proposition, with around 10 more scheduled before the April 2 election. “We’re gone just about every night presenting and we continue to add more presentations,” he said.

Smith said the presentations have been very well received, with those in attendance seeing the need for increased funding in the district.

Board member Chris Warren thanked the district administrators for their work educating the public on the proposition. “I know it’s been almost every weeknight for weeks now,” she said. “And when you go out there and do it, it’s impressive.”

“If they’ve listened to the presentations or seen what the district sent out, we’ve demonstrated the need,” Board Member Brandon Pylate added. “The assessment is low here. We’ve been doing it on a shoestring budget for a long time. There will be people that vote no, and that’s fine, but we’ve at least demonstrated the need.”

More information on the proposition and the state of the school board can be found on page 1D in this week’s Progress special sections.

• The Board recognized the Jackson High School Cheerleading Team, which won the Class 5 large squad division state championship in December. The team also won second place at the NCA High School Nationals Championship in January.

“The girls are truly amazing,” Cheerleading Head Coach Jana Scott said. “They worked hard, and it’s not just the sideline stuff you see when they cheer at football games and basketball games – it’s nothing to do with that. It’s a two minute 30 second routine that is nonstop cheer and cardio. They are lifting human beings in the air, and we don’t want them to drop.”

Scott said this was the third cheerleading state championship for Jackson, though the team was in Class 4 and competed in the small squad division when Jackson won state in 2018 and 2019.

“We competed in the large squad division this year,” Scott said. “We’ve always competed in the small squad, which is 14 girls and under. They changed it to 15 this year, but we went up to large – which is between 15 to 23 girls.”

The team received third place at state in 2020, second place in 2021 and fourth place in 2022. “Now we’re back at first, so we’d like to stay there,” Scott said, adding that the entire squad of 20 cheerleaders competed at the regional, state and national level.

“We had zero alternates,” she said. “We took all 20 girls for the first time ever.”

• The district celebrated School Board Appreciation Month, with early childhood students, members of the Community Teachers Association and district administrators thanking the board members for their service to the district.

Smith also recognized board member Kelly Waller, who was attending his final board meeting as a board member. Waller, who chose not to run for reelection, has been on the school board for nine years and had served as the board’s president for four years. Waller made the motion to adjourn the meeting.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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