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Assessing the state of the schools with the SPS superintendent


The August edition of the Chamber’s “Good Morning, Springfield!” series featured the annual State of the Schools presentation with Springfield Public Schools Superintendent John Jungmann.

It was the first of the monthly networking events to be held in person since the beginning of the pandemic, and the attendees – all socially distanced and wearing masks – gathered in the Kickapoo High School auditorium for the presentation, with several hundred more watching a live stream of the event online.

Of course, 2020 is vastly different from past years, and the SPS presentation reflected the ways the district is innovating and adapting – as well as working to continue, as the theme of the event noted, “building up every learner, every day.”

“Like no time in history, we understand that today, nothing is static,” Jungmann said. “Everything we do is constantly changing, and our ability to adapt quickly to changing environments will significantly impact our ability to succeed.”

Jean Grabeel, the district’s director of health services, discussed in-classroom safety plans for when students who have chosen the district’s hybrid in-person learning option resume fall classes on August 24 as part of the “School Re-Entry Plan.” Plans focus on maintaining social distance between students, face coverings, smaller class sizes, and extensive cleaning measures throughout district facilities.

Several district leaders also discussed various initiatives that are “under construction” in the district, from new magnet programs to enhanced adaptability initiatives and increased focus on equity and diversity through the creation of a Coordinator of Equity and Diversity in Workforce Development position.

In addition, Deputy Superintendent Carol Embree offered an update on construction projects funded by the Proposition S bonds passed in 2018. She noted that the newly renovated Delaware and Sunshine Elementary Schools will be open for classes later this month, as will the new Adah Fulbright Early Childhood Center. Construction is also underway on the new Boyd Elementary, and the district is preparing to break ground on projects at Williams Elementary and Hillcrest High School.

“Never before has there been a time when we’ve had more under construction at SPS,” Jungmann said. “More buildings, certainly, but that’s just the beginning. We’re also building more adaptability, more equity for our under-resourced and underrepresented students, and more choice in our learning experiences.”

But while he was excited about what the future holds for the district, the superintendent was aware of how different the current time is from normal, as well as the challenges the district and the community continue to face … and he said SPS is prepared to meet those challenges head on.

“Some students’ first day will be at home, while others will be in a classroom with desks appropriately spaced apart and smaller class sizes. Students and staff will be wearing masks. Drop-off procedures will be different. Recess will be different. Athletics and activities will be different,” Jungmann said. “But the constant in the midst of uncertainty will be quality learning. That must, and will, continue.”

Did you miss the event? Check out the video replay below!


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