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SJSD board agrees major work needed on school boundary maps

Board members agree school boundaries need to be reconfigured for future efficiencies.

Posted: Feb 6, 2020 10:45 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) -- Members of the Board of Education with the St. Joseph School District agrees major work needs to be done on their school boundries.

"I think what we saw today is that our boundries are a mess and I don't think that's a surprise to anybody, anyone on our board or anybody on our administrative team," said board president Seth Wright.

After going through a presentation at a committee meeting Thursday afternoon, they admit they've heard about problems from parents.

"People say on social media, 'Look, I live within school X, and I can spit at it, except my kids go miles down the road to another school. That's absolutely true and I understand why they're frustrated," Wright said.

Current ly some St. Joseph elementary schools are K-5th grade and others K-6th grade.

"Just academically, the experience to be in a building with 6th, 7th and 8th graders (is different) compared to being a 6th grader in elementary," said superintendent Doug Van Zyl. "Our staff does a great job trying to manage it but I think they would also tell you it's a different experience for our kids."

High school boundries overlap to the point that students in middle school will often go to different high schools.

Retired educator Lori Witham was a teacher at Truman Middle School, which currently feeds some of its students to Benton High School and others to Central High School, which can be difficult on some of the students. She says that can also be hard on kids.

"Especially af the end of the year, you've got a lot of tears," she said. "I've made friends with this person and not going to see them anymore. For some, it's an emotional trauma to go through."

The board is looking at redrawing boundry lines for the elementary, middle and even the high schools. Some scenerios include either Benton or Lafayette being reconfigured as a middle school with a new high school being built. These are some of the same options board members were considering when considering going to the public for a vote on a tax increase. After months of discussion, that plan was withdrawn.

However, board members say the status quo can not continue.

"People like to resist change all along the way until change happens. Then once it happens they realize we should have done it all along."

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The forecast for today will be very similar to yesterday: cooler, hazy, and sunny. The hazy sky is a result of the wild fires out to the west of us. Tonight should be cool as well with lows in the lower 60s and calm winds. Dry and sunny conditions continue into next week as temperatures stay seasonal. Highs look to stay in the 80s until midweek and the humidity will be moderate, feeling a lot more comfortable than last week.
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