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Saturday, Sep. 20, 2014

School officials try to answer concerns

Sunday, March 13, 2005

SIKESTON -- As the April 5 election nears, some residents have voiced concerns over more than the new math and science center proposed in the $4.53 million bond issue by the Sikeston R-6 School District.

According to members of Better Schools Build Better Communities, a group advocating the bond issue, several of them are fielding questions from the public -- many of which don't even pertain to proposed building.

"These are just real issues people have on their minds and it's amazing to us what would be an issue to someone," said Dan Jennings, co-chair of Better Schools Build Better Communities.

The short answer to these questions is they're not an issue; however, if these things are on people's minds, the committee wants to have those answered and clear up any rumors, Jennings said.

Recently Jennings and Sikeston R-6 Superintendent Steve Borgsmiller took time to address those inquiries. The most commonly asked questions are as follows:

Jennings: To my knowledge it's always been the position of the school district that the ninth grade would be closed and not be part of open campus. I'm not sure what to do to monitor that because to a certain extent, the ninth graders co-mingled with rest of the student body. But one of things good about this bond issue is it builds a building that primarily contains the ninth grade students.

Borgsmiller: Two--thirds of ninth grade students will be at the facility at any given point in time. Right now I have no idea how we will do it. If I was still principal, I'd adjust lunch hours and probably have all of the ninth graders in one lunch hour. There are ways to do that. Ninth graders do not have as many as choices in classes as upper classmen. It will be done administratively.

Jennings: It is important to understand currently the campus will remain open for sophomores, juniors and seniors.

Borgsmiller: No. If anything that will happen, once we get seventh and eighth grade together, they can compete on same teams without diminishing the eligibility of either age group, whereas eighth and ninth graders can't compete together unless you're willing to diminish the eligibility of the eighth graders. This is more of the normal set up that the Missouri State High School Activities Association says you can only play a sport for four years. It's going to be an expansion of our activities program to include more seventh graders.

Jennings: The ninth grade program exists not because the ninth grade is in separate building, but because we have a ninth grade program.

Borgsmiller: This aligns us athletically more with the competition around us. The primary reason we have different levels is also because the competition in other communities is at the same level. If not for that, it wouldn't matter what you did, you couldn't compete against anybody if the surrounding neighbors didn't have a team to play against.

Jennings: This issue is not related to any of elementary schools. The elementary issue is an issue we as a school district will address at another day and time. There is nothing that happens in this bond issue that would make it where you could close Morehouse.

The only thing that does happen is Southwest building becomes open because the fifth graders are moving to the Junior High building.

Southwest is not going to be available to move because that facility is committed to being for the alternative school.

Jennings: The Middle School is a bigger building and better equipped to handle a junior high program where you will have sporting events that have spectators at, whereas Junior High gym was built for P.E.

Borgsmiller: The Middle School building is 30,000-plus more square feet larger than the Junior High. Student enrollment is virtually identical.

It suits their needs and age appropriateness. It works very well.

Jennings: The No. 1 reason we moved the ninth grade from the high school campus to junior high was space. The high school campus was overcrowded and needed space so we built a junior high and made it an eighth and ninth grade facility. and so we moved the ninth grade off the high school campus originally because overcrowded.

In addition to that, since 1968 additional classes are offered at the high school which take up classroom space. Computer courses are the first thing that come to my mind.

Borgsmiller: Now we have computer labs and instructional television classes and we've lowered classroom ratios.

Jennings: This will upgrade the math and science facility and at the same time build classroom space specific for the ninth . That's why the building is being built -- we're adding classroom space and doing away with one of most inefficient buildings.

Borgsmiller: Curriculum. They'll be on high school campus and now several ninth graders are already going back and forth and will have everything on campus and keep focus in having all counselors in charge of high school on one campus.

It's a high school -- not a fractured high school, and there's many efficiencies in doing that. Some teachers are only certified 9-12 or K-8 and this will help make sure we have the right certification. It will help with scheduling and we'll have more efficient use of the staff and building.