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Springfield-area business leaders hear progress report from superintendent of Missouri’s largest school district

Flanked by colorful balloons and sound equipment, Springfield Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan speaks at a podium.
Gregory Holman/KSMU
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Springfield Public Schools Superintendent gave the annual State of the Schools speech to the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce "Good Morning Springfield" event at the Center for Advanced Manufacturing at Ozarks Technical Community College on August 4, 2022.

Roughly 400 business leaders turned out on a rainy Thursday morning to hear the annual State of the Schools speech by Dr. Grenita Lathan, superintendent of the Springfield school district.

“She’s a partner to the business community, she’s collaborative, she listens and looks for solutions. I’m eager to hear what she has to say today.”

Those are the words of Matt Morrow, president of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. He commented just before the annual State of the Schools speech by Springfield Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan this week.

Lathan spoke at Ozarks Technical Community College’s brand-new manufacturing center, outlining district achievements and plans. The chamber of commerce crowd gave Lathan a standing ovation.

Springfield-area business leaders stand and clap on August 4, 2022, after hearing the annual State of the Schools speech from Dr. Grenita Lathan, Springfield Public Schools superintendent, at Ozarks Technical Community College's Center for Advanced Manufacturing.
Gregory Holman/KSMU
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Springfield-area business leaders stand and clap on August 4, 2022, after hearing the annual State of the Schools speech from Dr. Grenita Lathan, Springfield Public Schools superintendent, at Ozarks Technical Community College's Center for Advanced Manufacturing.

She noted it’s just 18 days until the Springfield school year starts, with 24,000 students returning to class, served by 3,500 teachers and staffers. KSMU checked in with Lathan shortly before her talk.

“Oh, I’m excited — I’m excited about the upcoming school year," Lathan said. "I’m excited that during the ‘21-’22 school year, the goals that the board and I outlined last year upon my arrival, that we were able to accomplish those goals. I’m excited about the upcoming school year because we’ve realigned our academic programming. We will be providing additional expanded services for students before or after school that need that additional care.”

Lathan said that changes to the Springfield district’s strategic plan are coming soon. Members of the public will get to have their say.

“And also the board and I just started Tuesday night the process to start revising our strategic plan. And we’ll be gathering stakeholder input over the next several months, so I’m excited,” Lathan said.

Keep up with information about school board meetings by selecting "Board of Education" at sps.org.

Gregory Holman is a KSMU reporter and editor focusing on public affairs and investigations.