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Jackson R-2 approves demographic study

The Jackson R-2 Board of Education agreed to move forward with a demographic study of the School District from Business Information Services LLC. The firm, which has done similar work for Farmington and Poplar Bluff, will prepare up to 30 different demographic maps that would show the anticipated changes in the District during the next decade.

Superintendent Dr. John Link said the District will use the study for phase two of the facilities master plan. He said it will help them figure out what their next facility projects need to be and when they will be necessary.

Business Information Services will use birth rates, home sales and residential building permits, parcel data from all three counties in the District, interviews with city and county staff on anticipated future development, out-of district and out-of-attendance enrollment, capacity analysis of current District buildings, local economy impact and purchase data from three demographic vendors for its comprehensive study.

Link said the firm will start collecting data in the next few weeks and will finish the report in February or March of next year. The cost of the study is a flat fee of $21,000, with an additional $5,000 to $10,000 if the District authorizes a bus route analysis from the company.

“$30,000 seems like a lot of money, but in order for us to make good decisions moving forward, I think that’s probably a drop in the bucket compared to what it would be to make a poor decision without having the data to back it up,” Link said.

Link added that he would like to have Business Information Services provide bus data, but only if the company could improve upon the recent work the District has done with bus routes.

The District has seen increasing growth over the past four years, causing the middle school and junior high to be more crowded than expected. Link added that they have done work to make sure the elementary schools have enough room, but the study will help see if additional attendance areas changes will be needed.

The study will include by-building demographics, free-and-reduced-lunch data, minority enrollment data and private school enrollment in the area. Business Information Services has a 1.1 percent per year error rate – meaning if the District uses the study five years from now, the projections would only be off by 5.5 percent.

If the District decided to move forward with a school bond election for future expansions, Business Information Services would help the District form an election strategy at no additional cost.

Business Information Services, which has been in business for nearly 15 years, has completed more than 200 projects in 12 states. Eighty percent of their projects have been with Missouri school districts.

In other action:

• The Board set Friday, May 24, 2019, as the graduation date for the 2018-19 school year.

• The Board approved policy changes due to a new state law creating the Missouri Course Access Program (MOCAP). Under the program, the state approves virtual course providers that students from any district in the state could take.

Students have to be enrolled in the district and have to attend at least one semester at Jackson before the District would pay for their virtual classes. The District will create procedures for enrollment in virtual classes and how high school administrators will approve them.

As part of these policy changes, the District can allow students who participate in community service to possibly earn credit for service learning.

• From Jackson, a record 23 took part in the Boys and Girls State programs this summer in Warrensburg. 12 students participated in the American Legion Missouri Boys State and 11 students participated in the American Legion Auxiliary Missouri Girls State.

The participants in both programs helped create model city, county and state governments with a group of other students from across the state. As “citizens,” they were able to run for local office and perform other government jobs such as highway patrol or postal worker. During the week, participants were also able to hear from state leaders and ask them questions.

Five students who participated in the program this year spoke to the School Board about their experience. While none said they would want to run for office in their future, they all enjoyed the experience and said it gave them a better understanding of local government.

• Special Education teachers Geannie Floyd and Chelsea Mahnken, as well as some of their students, gave a presentation about the Team ‘in’Spire coffee and snack cart. The program, which started last year, has the students prepare and deliver coffee and snacks for teachers and others at East Elementary School.

The snack cart provides hands on learning opportunities that help with communication, mathematics, social skills and teamwork. The money received is then used to order treats for the students. The students made most of the snacks, including trail mix, cookies and chocolate apple snacks.

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 four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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