SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Springfield Public Schools is starting the new school year with dozens of new positions and support including full-time nurses, additional counseling and teachers.
The Springfield School Board also approved the hiring of three new teachers Tuesday for Westport Mark Twain and Wilder schools.
"We're up about 300 students over last year and we've got some kindergarten classrooms that are a little bigger than what we want them to be. So we're going to give them some extra support," says associate superintendent Ben Hackenwerth.
Voters passed a $0.10 tax increase in April for this year. It will go up another $0.10 next year.
Now we're seeing what voters are getting with that money. The district says it added about 70 positions so far.
"So often where we catch [a bubble in students is in] kindergarten," says Kittilu Maxson, the Springfield NEA president who used to at one of the schools getting a new teacher. "Counselors on site, nurses in every building. It's a huge difference and I imagine that we are going to see the data to support that this was exactly what teachers needed."
In an email, Norm Ridder, Springfield superintendent, laid out this year's changes in detail:
*15 of our schools will have additional counseling support, including 7 that will now have a full-time counselor instead of sharing with another school.
*8 schools will now have a full-time nurse that previously did not.
*6 new site-based clinicians will provide mental health therapy on site for students who are in crisis or have emotional needs that are preventing them from being successful in school.
*Every Title I school will be assigned a behavior interventionist; that is 20 schools that will benefit from having a person dedicated to maintaining and guiding student behavior, which will have a positive impact on the school climate.
*In addition, we have added teaching staff to help keep pace with enrollment and maintain class sizes, fulfilling our promise to this community.
"As we bring some new schools online in 2015-2016, we'll add additional teaching positions to fill those schools," says Hackenwerth.