(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The public got its first look at possible plans for the future of St. Joseph high schools.
The St. Joseph School District held the first of two "Community Conversation" meetings with the public to review its Master Facilities Plan Wednesday night at emPowerU.
High School Concepts:
Concept A: New Single High School
Concept B: Two New High Schools
Concept C: Build New High School & Renovate Central
Concept D: Renovate Current High Schools
Concept E: New 9th Grade Center & 10-12 High School
"We clearly have to do something to address our facilities," St. Joseph School District Board of Education President Seth Wright said.
Five concepts are being considered with price tags ranging from $110 to $190 million dollars. The concepts include building either one (Concept A) or two new high schools (Concept B), build a new high school and renovate Central (Concept C), renovate all three current high schools (Concept D), or build a new 9th grade center and 10-12 high school (Concept E).
Concepts A, B, and E would call for closing Benton, Central and Lafayette or possibly using the buildings for other purposes.
"This is highly emotional when you're talking about alma maters, high schools, where people go," Wright said. "It's a difficult conversation to have but I think it's a conversation we have to have."
An online survey taken earlier this year by more 1,500 people showed 60 percent believed the current district facilities will not support future educational needs. More than 65 percent believed district facilities were not sufficiently updated or modernized.
A second "Community Conversation" meeting will be held Thursday from 5-8pm at emPowerU at 518 S. 6th Street.
The district will then develop recommendations for the school board. The board could possibly vote on a final plan to be implemented by the school district in November.
"We want to make sure everyone has an opportunity to have a say in this and have input so that we can make the best decision on the data that we have," Wright said.