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Springfield P & Z votes against SPS acquisition of land for Pipkin Middle School

Vacant land at 3207 E. Pythian that's being proposed as the future site of Pipkin Middle School (Photo taken on July 17, 2023)
Michele Skalicky
Vacant land at 3207 E. Pythian that's being proposed as the future site of Pipkin Middle School (Photo taken on July 17, 2023)

The decision can be overruled by the Springfield Public Schools Board of Education, but at least two-thirds of members must vote yes.

The City of Springfield Planning and Zoning Commission has voted five to one against Springfield Public Schools’ acquisition of property in east central Springfield for a new Pipkin Middle School. The vote was five to one last Thursday.

The 29.7-acre property is located at 3207 E. Pythian.

Planning and Zoning staff had recommended denial because they said it doesn’t align with the city’s comprehensive plan Forward SGF.

"Goal one of our Infrastructure and Community and Facilities chapter and also in goal one of the Housing and Neighborhood chapter recommend schools in areas that are easily and accessible from neighborhoods," said Springfield planning manager Bob Hosmer. "The plan calls for ensuring educational facilities are highly accessible by transit, walking, biking from all neighborhoods. This site does not offer any of that."

The site on E. Pythian is surrounded by industrial development and by Highway 65 on the east.

Pipkin Middle School is currently located at 1215 N. Boonville and is close to neighborhoods.

Travis Shaw, deputy superintendent of operations for SPS, told the board that it’s a tremendous challenge to find enough land for a new school in central Springfield.

"The property at 3207 E. Pythian is nearly seven times the size of the current Pipkin campus and is located near the SPS Transportation headquarters and the newly constructed Central High School ball fields," said Shaw.

School officials have said the new location would benefit Pipkin students since more would be eligible for free bus transportation through SPS.

Board members who voted against the acquisition cited concerns about emergency access to the new school and about locating the facility so far from its current location.

The Springfield Board of Education can still move forward with acquiring the property for a new Pipkin School if at least two-thirds of members vote yes.

The school board previously voted unanimously to purchase the property.

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.