Jonathan Sessions for School Board
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I was elected to the Columbia Public Schools Board of Education ten years ago and over those years I’ve worked tirelessly to position our schools—and our children—for the future.
Since elected to the board, I’ve worked to stabilize the district’s finances during challenging economic times, expand and improve our schools, and ensure that all students have the opportunity to excel.
Thanks to the community’s overwhelming support, we’ve opened Muriel Battle High, Eliot Battle Elementary, Beulah Ralph Elementary, The Center for Early Learning North, and New Cedar Ridge Elementary while also funding needed additions and renovations to other schools including West Elementary, Shepard, Locust, and Douglass. Because of this, we were able to reduce class sizes and begin a 10 year program to phase out trailers and put all our students in safe, brick and mortar classrooms. In August 2020, we will open John Warner Middle School on Sinclair Street to alleviate overcrowding in our middle schools. Once John Warner Middle opens there will be fewer than 20 trailers still in use, down from 174 ten years ago. And yes, I’m also pleased to report that all our schools are now air conditioned.
Even more important than the quality of our facilities is the quality of our children’s education. We’ve all heard Dr. Stiepleman’s rallying cry of “achievement, enrichment, opportunity” and that’s a goal I take to heart as well.
The opening of Battle High brought with it a reorganization of our entire district, from kindergarten to senior year. This means looking at alternatives to standard curricula to better serve all our students. Because of this Benton Elementary is now a STEM magnet elementary school, both Lee and Ridgeway Elementary Schools have greater ability to innovate as Autonomous Schools, and Jefferson Middle school in the process of transitioning to a STEM and Arts lottery school all students in Columbia will have an chance to attend. After a decade of work, the Nature School our community has dreamed for is becoming a reality. In additional to all Columbia 5th graders, students from all over Boone County will spend a week experiencing place-based education in Three Creeks Conservation Area. All four of our high schools now have Career Center programs on site and we have revitalized our alternative high school program at Douglass to give all students a greater opportunity to succeed.
Successfully preparing our young people for their futures is both a moral and an economic imperative for our community. As we prepare our students to take on vital roles in our society, I am always aware that this must be a community effort. I’ve been thankful for your support over the years and once again, I am asking for your help as I continue my efforts to ensure the best education for all of Columbia’s children.