Homes on the blocks adjacent to Jefferson City High School are being bought by the school district after many of them sustained tornado damage.

Jefferson City (Mo.) district buys tornado-damaged homes near high school

Nov. 11, 2019
Acquiring homes damaged in a May tornado will enable Jefferson City High School to add athletic fields.

The Jefferson City (Mo.) School District has bought more than 30 properties damaged in a May 22 tornado near Jefferson City High School to facilitate campus expansion.

The Jefferson City News Tribune reports that district is acquiring the parcels so it can provide comparable athletic fields at Jefferson City High and Capital City High, the district's second high school, which opened in August. 

"After the tornado came through, we had some property owners come to us and ask if we'd be interested in their property because they were damaged," says Jason Hoffman, the district's chief financial and operating officer. "We talked about it, and just knowing the sensitivity of it, we've kind of trod lightly."

In June, the district mailed 52 letters to property owners, and a majority of the responses were favorable, Hoffman says. The district began buying the properties in August.

In October, the board approved $2 million for property acquisition. As of Nov. 5, the district has spent $1.05 million on property acquisition.

The acquisition of the property is tied to an effort to create equity between the remodeled Jefferson City High and the newly constructed Capital City High.

"At Capital City High School and Jefferson City High School, the underlying root is we want to give all of our students the same opportunity regardless of where you go to school," Superintendent Larry Linthacum says.

Past efforts by the district to expand the Jefferson City High campus had been met with some opposition by neighbors.

Nearby resident Patsy Johnson, who opposed a 2016 effort to buy land, said this move by the district is different because it would not be placing a school next to family-owned homes and forcing people out.

The tornado-damaged properties are mostly rental, and the owners are willing to sell, she says.

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