Courageous Conversations: Why Three Schools Need Renovations

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Three Springfield public schools could be getting renovated if a measure on the April ballot passes.

“Sunshine Elementary is one of the oldest buildings in Springfield public schools,” said Tracy Daniels, principal of Sunshine Elementary School, “it has had lots of additions and a few renovations, and right now, we are in need of updates.”

Daniels said ever since she stepped into the role of being principal, renovating the school has been the number one priority, “currently, our entrance to the building is in the back of the building. However, our office is in the front of the building, and so it takes two different hallways and three different turns to go from entering the building to being checked in with school personnel, validated for reason of visiting, and visitor tag put on.”

This gives guests plenty of opportunities to go down other hallways, head in other directions, and even step into classrooms.

“Although we are a tight-knit community and we feel very close and safe, the element of possibility is just too great, and so it puts staff on edge, it puts parents on edge and we know that students and staff always have to feel safe so that we can keep the learning environment moving forward,” Daniels said. 

Daniels also said the school needs to expand for the increasing number of students enrolling.

“We need more parking, and we need more space for our bus system to come through,” said Daniels, “but we don’t want it to eat our playground space for students to be outdoors and engage on the playground.”

They’re also looking at renovating the cafeteria space.

Currently, it’s used as the gym, cafeteria, community spot for musical performances, with the kitchen right next to it.

“When we have everyone together in one spot that’s a great thing,” Daniels explained, “however when we use it for multiple reasons, we run into noise issues, electricity issues, technology issues, entrance, and exit issues, especially those with special needs.”

You will be asked to pay more property taxes in April, with a $34 increase in a $100,000 income home. 

That money would go toward renovating Sunshine Elementary, but would also fix problems at Hillcrest High School and Williams Elementary School.

Bridget Dierks, a co-chair of a community member task force, told KOLR10 what you get for the extra $34.

“We are able to impact 39 different projects,” explained Dierks, “we will have safe, secure entrances and vestibules within the school system, with all of the schools that don’t currently have them.”

The money will also be used to build new buildings, “and also having several gut remodel projects in this first bond issue,” Dierks said, “we’ll be impacting elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools as well.”

The bond issue proposes an 18-cent increase in the levy.

“Which would be done over the course of two years,” said Dierks, “the first nine cents, and then nine cents on the second. So that’s a great opportunity and it’s a 20-year levy, so we’ll term out after 20 years.”

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