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Most Jackson elementary schools may become K-4

Currently, the seven Jackson elementary school buildings have different grade configurations. North, East and South have grades K-5. Orchard Drive and Gordonville have grades K-2. Millersville has K-3. West Lane has grades 3-5.

This may change in the future, so most of the elementary schools will be K-4. Middle School will have grades 5-6 instead of 6-7. The junior high will have grades 7-8 instead of grades 8-9, and freshmen (grade 9) will move from the junior high to the high school.

Aaron Harte of Incite Design Studio Architects explained this option for facility usage to the Jackson R-2 Board of Education Nov. 8. This reconfiguration of grades was the option most favored in meetings that Incite Design held with school staff and members of the community. “Option three has the most votes,” summed up Harte. Millersville will probably be the only elementary school that will not be K-4.

The proposal for facilities usage was presented for informational purposes. A draft proposal is expected to be presented to the Board at the Dec. 13 meeting for a vote of approval.

Some improvements will be made to all of the buildings. Some will be minor security upgrades. Other improvements will be extensive, requiring construction. These projects will be financed with bond issues that will not require an increase in taxes.

As freshman are moved to the high school, it’s likely that they will be kept separate from the rest of the students, although they will share some of the same facilities. A freshman center will probably be added to the high school. It seems likely that the old “A” building, which is currently not being used, will be either renovated or demolished and replaced with a new structure in its place. Harte was surprised that 66 percent of people surveyed did not think it was important to preserve the old “A” building. He expected greater sentimental attachment to the historical building.

Another 64 percent thought a larger performing arts center at the high school was important. Only 11 percent said no to this addition.

If the Board approves this plan, a bond issue request will be put on the April 2017 ballot.

In other action:

• State champs honored: The Board recognized the JHS girls cross country team, which won the 2016 state championship for Division 4. In a tradition started last year, the girls signed the back of the trophy.

“Every runner has had something that stood in their path,” Coach Andrea Talley told the Board. “Each has overcome a lot. They had this never-say-die spirit. They were very composed. This was the most relaxed team I’ve ever taken to state.”

• Encore Choice Fridays: A presentation was given on Encore “Choice Fridays” at South Elementary. Students can choose which encore class to attend. They include physical education, library, art and music. Some students demonstrated their projects from these sessions for the Board.

• Bond refinancing: The Board approved refinancing of two previous bond issues. Refinancing the 2016A bonds saves $312,000 by taking advantage of lower interest rates. Refinancing the 2016B bonds and extending payments out three more years saves $180,000.

• Filing dates set: The Board set filing dates for the April 4, 2017, election. Filing will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays (except when the Board office is closed for holidays) from Tuesday, Dec. 13, through Monday, Jan. 17, 2017.

Up for election are the seats currently held by Terri Tomlin, Bruce Thomas and Dr. T. Wayne Lewis. All seats are three-year terms.

• Policy changes: The Board approved three policy changes. Bullying and hazing were separated into two policies and a policy on worker’s compensation was added.

• Bids accepted: Contracts were awarded to the lowest bidder for lawn mowing at School District buildings. Kueker’s Lawn Service will mow at the junior high, middle school, Orchard, South and the baseball field area (but not the field itself). Burnett Landscape management will mow West Lane, North, Millersville, Gordonville and East. Clean Cut Lawn Maintenance will mow at the Board offices. (Clean Cut was actually the second lowest bidder but was considered more reliable than the lowest bidder and the difference in cost was just $4).

The Board also awarded a contract for lighting at the baseball field. Barton Electric, Inc. submitted “the best bid that came in,” according to Associate Superintendent Jeff Bollinger. Eight light poles will be installed for a base cost of $164,000. The project will be completed before Feb. 28, 2017, so the field will be ready for night games when the season starts.

• Grant requests: R-2 Foundation Director Merideth Pobst announced that the Foundation has received 56 grant applications. Last year the Foundation awarded $20,000 in teaching and learning grants and $20,000 in technology grants to Jackson teachers.

• Facebook: Pobst also announced that eight of 10 Jackson R-2 school campuses now have their own Face-book presence.

• Annual Performance Report: Assistant Superintendent Dr. Beth Emmendorfer announced that the Annual Performance Report from the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has been released. Jackson R-2 scored a total of 98.2 percent, up from 95.7 last year.

Jackson scored 100 percent on academic achievement, graduation rate and attendance rate. The District scored 85.7% on subgroup achievement (free and reduced lunch students, at-risk students, students with disabilities, etc.) and 98.3% on college and career readiness.

R-2 Superintendent Dr. John Link said smaller schools with fewer subgroups can score higher overall than Jackson. However, he was proud of the improvement in the overall score at Jackson. “We challenged our teachers to build relationships with the subgroup kids,” he said. “Kudos to our principals and kudos to our administrators.”

• American Education Week: This week is American Education week. It was announced that a flag-raising ceremony would kick off this week on Monday morning at East Elementary. A retired teacher luncheon is set for noon on Friday, Nov. 18, at South Elementary.

• Busch Stadium Appearance: Link announced that the JHS baseball team will play a game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Wednesday, April 19, following the Cardinals-Pirates afternoon game. It was not yet known what high school team the Indians will face.

• Classroom on the Court: On Wednesday, Nov. 16, Jackson fifth and sixth graders will go to Southeast Missouri State University to participate in Classroom on the Court. There will be a scavenger hunt, lunch, and then they will watch an 11 a.m. SEMO girls basketball game vs. Western Illinois. There will be a focused message on anti-bullying, Emmendorfer reported.

• Next meeting: The Jackson R-2 Board of Education meets regularly for open session at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at 614 E. Adams, Jackson. The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 13.

Gregory Dullum has worked for The Cash-Book Journal for more than 25 years. Prior to becoming the editor in May 2017, he was production manager, circulation manager and reporter. Before moving to Cape Girardeau in 1988, he was editor of the Saint Louis Park Sailor, a weekly community newspaper in suburban Minneapolis, MN. A native of Minnesota, he returned there after graduating with distinction in 1978 from Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA, with a degree in mass communications. His wife, Marie, whom he met in college, is a native of Zalma, a small town in southeast Missouri. They have two grown daughters and five grandchildren. Gregory may be reached at

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