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 After months of discussion, that plan was withdrawn.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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A few areas of frost are possible this morning as temperatures have fallen into the mid 30s. Today temperatures will remain below average with highs in the upper 50s and lower 60s under mostly sunny skies. A few clouds will move back into the area tonight as temperatures dip down into the mid to lower 30s. Areas of frost will be possible again early Thursday morning. Conditions will stay relatively the same on Thursday with highs in the upper 50s under mostly sunny skies. Rain chances will move back into the area on Friday, mainly through the afternoon and evening keeping temperatures in the lower 50s. A few rain showers could linger through early Saturday morning before moving out of the area. Sunday looks to be a dry and mild day with temperatures remaining in the upper 50s. Temperatures will start to warm up on Monday with highs back in the low to mid 60s before a cold front moves through the area dropping temperatures back into the 50s on Tuesday.
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