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Joplin school district seeks input on future construction plans

Proposals deal with West Central, Columbia schools

The Joplin school district invites citizens to give input on possible plans to consolidate or fix West Central and Columbia elementary schools. 
A facilities planning committee backed the idea of new combined school on separate. But four plans exist and community input sessions are underway. 
"I like the idea of keeping it in this area," Virginia Hogan commented as she read one proposal Tuesday morning at West Central's tornado shelter.  Her husband is a West Central alumnus along with their kids. Both got to weigh in on the old school's future. They read about the challenges of keeping it open. "This is interesting, sewer problems, " Howard Hogan commented.

Virginia said, "It's not a matter of being sad that it would be closed. I know progress has to be made. And if it can be made in a way that this building can be used. I would be more happy if that was the case."

The district input sessions show four possible plans for Columbia and West Central. Boards highlight the plans strengths, challenges and seek  other solutions and feedback. 
One would add on to West Central to the north  bringing  Columbia students there.Cathy Jo Loy, who chose to have her son attend West Central in 2011, doesn't agree with bringing the schools together. That would mean a total school population of 450 students. 
Loy argued,  "A small school has been proven statistically to do better  for poor student outcome. So, we want to keep our neighborhoods knowing they can walk to their schools, that they have access,  that they're known by  staff and known by teachers."
Another plan would renovate Columbia while a separate one  would raze the old Columbia school and build again at  the same site. That drew several comments against putting money in a site that won't work.

In a power point opener the superintendent, Melinda Moss, pointed out cracks that continue to widen at the un-useable new FEMA storm shelter and in the school itself from undermining. 

Moss said, "Also at Columbia, you have only 2.7 acres. So, how many  students maximum could you serve if you choose to rebuild on a shifting site."

Each proposal includes 2.8 million dollars in funding to create an addition to Kelsey Norman elementary to get rid of a mobile trailer. 

Moss explained, "We still have students that have to go outside  to the trailers that are parked in the back for classroom and instructional time."

 No matter what plan is picked,  Moss said the time is right. Because the district  can do the project with a no tax increase bond issue. The school district is looking at placing a bond issue on the April, 2020 ballot.
Another input  session is tonight at seven at West Central.
There are more input sessions scheduled for Wednesday at 10:00 am and 7:00 pm at Irving elementary library. And on Thursday at 10:00 am and 7:00 pm at Columbia elementary in the safe room. 
    
 

 

 

 

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