Springfield, MO

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Letter to the Editor: SPS building improvements don’t impact academic success 

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Dear editor,

I urge you to vote no on the proposed $220 million Springfield Public Schools bond as the district has only demonstrated a want, not a need. Area districts typically ask voters to approve large bonds to accommodate substantial enrollment increases. However, since October 2019, SPS K-12 enrollment has decreased by 1,245 students with another 662 full-time online. Those 1,907 vacant seats are equivalent to one entire high school.

It is misleading for SPS to say that you will not pay additional property taxes as reassessment this year will reflect significant increases in real estate values. Moreover, interest rates have risen and will affect the payouts for this bond.

Prior such costly “investments” in facilities have not produced measurable academic improvements. The recent Annual Performance Report by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education ranked SPS 27th among school districts in Greene and Christian counties and benchmark districts across the state.

For those building deficiencies cited by some, the answer is better ongoing maintenance, not demolition and new construction. If these new facilities are subsequently similarly neglected, then taxpayers will again be subject to demands for replacement at even higher levels of expenditure. In this $220 million bond, only three schools are to be either rebuilt or significantly renovated.

There are major factors which are far more likely to drive further parents/guardians to remove their children from SPS than older buildings. Student discipline issues, which have not been effectively addressed despite official acknowledgment, and divisive classroom content should be obvious starting points for the board and superintendent.

Buildings don’t teach. Focus on basics. Raise the bar.

—Carl Herd, former SPS teacher and member of SPS’ 2022 Community Task Force on Facilities


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