SPRINGFELD, Mo. -- The proposal to consolidate two of Springfield's elementary schools and using one for an early childhood center, is back before the Springfield R-12 school board tonight.
In February, Springfield school officials recommended closing Campbell Elementary as a traditional, neighborhood school and reopening the building this fall as a preschool.
They cited declining enrollment at Campbell - only 119 of the 133 students who attend live in the school attendance zone - and a desire to expand early childhood education options to Springfield families.
While the district said the consolidation would be beneficial, some parents and teachers are strongly opposed to the recommendation, and had a lot to say at a public hearing on March 9.
"One thing I like about it is all the kids know their teachers, teachers know our kids, and the parents kind of know the teachers too, and that's what I like," said Mary Brennfoerder, a parent of a Campbell student.
Teachers at Campbell Elementary agree.
"Don't close Campbell. At least give us one more year," said a teacher.
"It takes time and human connections with each child, the more of these kiddos you put together, the harder it is to give them that time and to build those connections," said a teacher."
Teachers also add that they're losing their sense of job security.
"You indicate that we would have the next 10 days to apply for a job next year, all to give us some illusion of control. But it is too late now. Teachers have already been encouraged to apply, and forced to accept new positions, you had us compete against each other, divided us, the split is already done," said a teacher.
The district says merging the schools would help stabilize those low numbers.
"We see this as a win-win, for teachers and for students," said Carol Embree, deputy superintendent of operations with SPS.
The idea is to move K-5 currently going to Campbell into the newer and bigger McGregor building, which was rebuilt in 2002.
The schools are less than a mile apart - about a three-minute drive. Embree says Campbell would then become a pre-school for up to 200 students.
"We have a need to provide for early childhood students in our community," said Embree.
The district would include a pilot transportation program to take kids to Campbell.
Tonight's School Board meeting is open to the public, although public comments will not be taken. It begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Kraft Administrative Offices on St. Louis Street.
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