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Save R-12 Schools Committee Formed to Oppose Springfield Public Schools Bond Proposal

Virgil Hill
Michele Skalicky

Springfield voters will decide in April on a $189 million bond issue for phase one of the Springfield Public Schools Facility Master Plan.  And a group opposing the proposal has registered with the Missouri Ethics Commission to urge voters to say no to the ballot measure.

The Save R-12 Schools Committee laid out its case today for why it feels the proposal would not be good for students. 

According to the group’s chair, Virgil Hill, data, pulled from the SPS website, show that new and bigger school buildings don’t necessarily result in increased academic performance.

"At the elementary level, you will see tremendous increases in recent years in test scores at York, a school that is slated to be closed and consolidated, and a higher poverty school than Westport at the elementary side.  But you will see Westport's scores, compared to their peers, declining," he said.

Westport underwent a major renovation and became a K-8 school after voters approved a bond issue in 2009.  In the last school year, only 12.8 percent of seventh graders received a proficient score in math on the Missouri Assessment Program standardized test.  Just 18.1 percent of sixth graders scored proficient or advanced.

Another concern the committee has about the bond issue, he said, are vacant buildings left behind after new campuses are built, which the group feels would negatively impact neighborhoods.

"This proposal will radically expand the number of abandoned buildings and campuses throughout the community, especially in northern parts of the city," according to Hill.  "This will significantly complicate efforts underway currently to combat poverty in this same geographic area."

Phase One of the Facility Master Plan, which the bond issue would fund, includes combining Pipkin and Boyd, Reed and Robberson and Jarrett and Portland onto new K-8 campuses.

Hill said their goal is to encourage voters to say no to the bond issue and then to have SPS "reconsider and re-imagine" the proposal and resubmit it.  He feels an assessment of needs could be done in-house without the need for another consultant study.

"We do have a lot of people employed in Building Services and other capacities within the district and presumably have the ability and the capacity and the expertise to do that kind of inventory of particular compelling needs within the district," Hill said.

The Committee's core leadership team, according to Hill, includes himself, Steve Hoots, Carl Heard, Fred Ellison, Ralph Plank and David Aubrey.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.
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