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Education news and issues in the Ozarks.

SPS Superintendent Delivers State of Schools Address

Michele Skalicky

The last two Springfield Public Schools projects funded by a $71.65 million bond issue approved by Springfield voters in 2013 are just about finished.

In his State of the School address today, SPS Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann said the auditorium at Kickapoo High School, which will also serve as a FEMA safe room, and renovations at Fremont Elementary will be complete by the start of school on August 17.

And Jungmann said they’ve recently analyzed 57 SPS buildings during a facility master planning process.

"At the August study session, our facility master planning team--our consultants we've been working with--will come to present to the board the list of results from all of those assessments," he said.

According to Jungmann, more than 1800 people gave their input into facility needs during surveys and public meetings.  After the August meetings, he said, the public will be able to weigh in on the planning team’s recommendations.

Also during his speech at the Good Morning, Springfield! breakfast, hosted by the Springfield  Area Chamber of Commerce, Jungmann talked about the Explore summer program, which offered extended learning opportunities this year.  The program, which ended in July, had an enrollment of 10,607, and Jungmann called it "an enormous success."

"We had incredible teachers, awesome kids and a community that really embraced our kids going out and learning with the community, and that's just a really rich opportunity that some of our kids never get," he said.

The challenges, according to Jungmann, involved logistics--including the hiring of nearly 1000 people for the new program.  But he said they’re ready to do it again next year.

According to Jungmann, SPS provided 348,000 meals and 1.5 million instructional hours to students during the Explore program this summer.

As the new school year gets underway this month, SPS will begin implementing year two of the IGNITE program, an initiative that provides "the resources and support necessary for all SPS teachers and students to access and experience an engaging, relevant and personalized learning environment," according to the district.  A key component of IGNITE is providing all students with mobile technology.

Eighteen schools took part in year one of IGNITE, and the program will be implemented in another 18 schools this year.

"We're excited about it.  It's been a good year one of learning, good feedback from kids and teachers, and the next step is just to take it to scale, so we're going to use everything we've learned in year one and apply it to another set of schools in year two," Jungmann said.

Jungmann says IGNITE's implementation has gone "incredibly smooth" so far since most teachers and students are comfortable with technology.

Jungmann pointed out in his address the 22 unique learning opportunities that SPS offers to students, including GO CAPS, which allows juniors and seniors to test out career options.  According to Dr. Jungmann, a new program for Title I schools is in the works, but the district isn't ready to release details yet.