SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A retired Springfield Public School teacher is opposing the bond issue known as Proposition S.
Carl Herd was on the task force for Prop S, and says he wants money to go towards academic achievement instead of facility improvements.
“There has been so much money spent on promoting Prop S,” Herd said. “You look at the ‘Yes on S’ signs around town and you can’t miss them. These new buildings are a want, not a need.”
In a statement from SPS, the district explains what the money in this bond issue can be used for:
“We have a responsibility to focus on both academic achievement and quality learning environments. Proposition S would provide funding for critical improvements to SPS facilities. The ballot language is very specific regarding how those funds can be used. The district is committed to full transparency, which is reflected in the ballot language, included below:
· Shall the School District of Springfield R-XII issue its general obligation bonds in the amount of $220,000,000 for the purpose of constructing, improving, extending, repairing, rebuilding, renovating, acquiring, furnishing and equipping new and existing school facilities and purchasing land therefor, including (1) safety and security upgrades at all school facilities, (2) constructing a new Pipkin Middle School and a new Reed Middle School, (3) renovating Pershing School, and (4) constructing storm shelters at the following elementary schools: Cowden, Holland, Mann, Pittman, Watkins, and Wilder?
If this proposition is approved, it is estimated that there will be no increase to the District’s debt service property tax levy and it will remain at $0.7300 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation of real and personal property.”Stephen Hall, SPS Chief Communications Officer
The district also said any signage for the bond issue is not from the district. SPS said Friends of SPS are responsible for ‘Yes on S’ signs around town and the group raised money to pay for the signs.
While Herd taught math at Pershing School for 27 years, he said the facilities were adequate.
“They didn’t anticipate that the gym would be too small for three grades when it was sufficient for junior high, seventh and eighth,” Herd said. “It’s a lack of planning or lack of putting in the full resources when they make middle schools.”
Although the facilities were adequate, Herd said maintenance was a concern for him.
“I would give the district a C on maintenance,” Herd said. “Why would we give you new buildings if you’re not going to maintain the ones we’ve got?”
If approved Proposition S would allow improvements for nine schools in the district. The three biggest improvements would be at Pipkin, Reed, and Pershing.
“I think they need to be focusing on academics and not buildings,” Herd said. “Buildings do not teach. I doubt that the test scores will change one iota if this passes.”
Since money from the bond issue cannot be used for specific learning purposes, SPS shared where the district is at when it comes to academic achievement:
“SPS is committed to the well-being of each student by providing high-quality academic opportunities. Our recent Annual Performance Report from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education demonstrates that Team SPS is focused on continuous improvement, where we earned 92.3% of the points possible in that category. We are especially proud that our district received full credit in recognition of our four-year graduation rate. Our internal assessments allow us to measure student achievement and progress in real-time, throughout the year. We are optimistic that the results monitored during the 2022-2023 school year indicate that our students are growing academically with support from extraordinary educators and support staff.”Stephen Hall, SPS Chief Communications Officer
For some parents, renovations and construction are necessary.
“Knowing what those facilities are like and the importance, it just seems like a good investment,” SPS parent Cory Goode said. “Not just for isolated communities, but for the city as a whole.”
Goode’s three kids went through Reed Academy, one of the schools included in Prop S. He also supported the 2019 Prop S Bond issue.
Now, Herd said the fate of the 2023 bond issue is in the hands of voters.