School facilities on the west side of Jackson County dominated the Jackson County School System's agenda over the last week.
Sunday afternoon, the system had its ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Jackson County High School on Skelton Rd. The school is a relocation of Jackson County Comprehensive High School from Jefferson and marks the first time the west side of the county has had a high school since 1979. The school will open this fall for grades 8-12.
On Monday night, the Jackson County Board of Education approved hiring Carroll Daniel Construction to build a new elementary/middle school facility near the new high school on Skelton Rd. Current plans are for the facility to be designed as a middle school, but will probably open as an elementary school to relieve overcrowding.
The west side of Jackson County has exploded with new students. During the past school year, the west side gained 420 new students into its schools while the east side of the county declined by 66 students.
Over the last 15 years, there has been an imbalance in classroom space in the county due to previous over-construction on the east side and under-construction on the west side. The new high school and upcoming new elementary/middle school facilities are an attempt by the BOE to add more classrooms to the fast-growing west side.
Meanwhile, the existing JCCHS facility in Jefferson is being converted to the Empower College & Career Center for students from all over the county to use for vocational and college classes. That center will open with the upcoming school year as its renovations are being completed this summer.
Also Monday night, the BOE approved designating the former West Jackson Primary School property as surplus and putting it up for sale. The facility is too old to be renovated for use and school leaders have been debating its future for the past several years. It is the third former school the system has surplused over the last decade. The system previously consolidated Benton Elementary School and South Jackson Elementary into newer facilities on the east side of the county.