No more school overcrowding as Springfield enrollment drops

A decrease in Springfield City School District’s kindergarten through sixth grade enrollment has alleviated overcrowding concerns in the district, school leaders said.

District leaders explored a number of possible solutions to overcome overcrowding in their elementary schools last school year but decided to not make any changes. Some school board members expressed concern about the issue but Springfield Superintendent Bob Hill said it now might have taken care of itself.

MORE: Springfield City Schools won’t address overcrowding for 2017

“At this point, our K-6 enrollment has declined by 67 students since last year,” he said.

That drop follows a drop of about 50 students the year earlier, according to data provided by the school district. Right now, about 4,300 kindergarten through sixth grade students are enrolled in the district. In the 2015-2016 school year, the district had more than 4,420 students enrolled in those grades.

“We continue to see declining enrollment as the population of Springfield and Clark County declines,” he said.

Only Snowhill Elementary is over capacity. It has 508 students and its capacity is 500.

The other schools nearing capacity are Kenwood and Lincoln elementaries, Hill said. Kenwood has 456 students with a capacity of 498 and Lincoln has 420 students with the capacity of 453.

Snyder Park has plenty of room, according to the stats by the district. However fifth grade parents at Snyder Park had concerns at the beginning of the school year about only having two teachers for that grade, parent Ashley Bustamante said.

The school hired a third fifth grade teacher about two weeks ago, Hill said, and said the situation was temporary as enrollment was adjusted.

RELATED: Springfield schools seek overcrowding solution

“I’m glad that they did that. I think a lot of the kids were struggling and I know my son’s teachers seemed very overwhelmed,” Bustamante said.

Her son has told her that Snyder Park doesn’t have a lot of space that’s unused.

“My son has said that they had to use the music room to make it into a classroom and he had expressed there is no room in the school,” she said.

Springfield Teacher Union President Jim Townsend, also a music teacher at Kenwood, said he doesn’t have a classroom and he would like to see the district address that in all of its schools.

EXTRA: 5 things to know about Springfield City Schools

“It limits what I am able to do as a music teacher,” he said.

The classroom the new fifth-grade Snyder Park teacher was assigned had been a music teacher room. The music teacher there now goes class-to-class with a cart, Townsend said.

Not having enough space for art and music teacher classrooms is a difficult challenge, Hill said, but teachers work hard to make the arrangements work.

“It is our current reality,” he said. “We still have many art and music rooms available and the reality is that our high-quality teachers will successfully teach art and music in the available spaces. We have rock star educators who truly support our students on a daily basis.”

Class sizes at Springfield elementary schools for kindergarten through third grade are around 20 students each and class sizes for fourth through sixth grades are 25 students each. The class sizes are smaller than what’s set in teacher contracts, Hill said.

“Because of this choice to keep class size smaller than many other public schools and smaller than our contract requires, our elementary buildings utilize all available classroom space, which may lead to a perception that our buildings are overcrowded,” Hill said.

Despite signs pointing that the district should be OK for the near future, the superintendent said school leaders have a constant conversation about possible overcrowding.

“We are pleased that we are currently able to offer small class sizes, which from a research perspective may have benefits to our students and our teachers,” he said. “At the current time, we do not need to make any changes to the use of our facilities, but we will review data again in the spring and of course, next fall, if enrollment changes substantially.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Community News

While students link arms at rallies, Trump hits the links in Florida
While students link arms at rallies, Trump hits the links in Florida

As student-led marches and rallies were being held in the United States and around the world Saturday to heighten awareness about gun violence and gun control, President Donald Trump began his first full day of the weekend at his Florida residence.  Saturday morning, the president left Mar-a-Lago and traveled to Trump International Golf Club in...
Area students join push to end school gun violence, but division remains
Area students join push to end school gun violence, but division remains

The debate over how to stop the ceaseless and senseless taking of lives by mass shooters is louder than it has been in years — and nowhere louder than in and around American schools. Spurred last month by young survivors of a high school shooting that killed 17 of their classmates, teachers and coaches in Parkland, Fla., a movement this month...
Former Kings teammates offer to cover Stephon Clark's funeral expenses
Former Kings teammates offer to cover Stephon Clark's funeral expenses

Former Sacramento Kings players DeMarcus Cousins and Matt Barnes have offered to cover the cost of the funeral of Stephon Clark, a black man who was shot and killed by police last Sunday, the Sacramento Bee reported. Clark, 22, died while holding a cellphone in his grandmother's backyard. He was unarmed, and his death sparked protests in...
Patriots donate plane to carry Parkland students to Washington rally
Patriots donate plane to carry Parkland students to Washington rally

Students from Parkland, Florida, who flew to Washington for Saturday’s March For Our Lives rally, got a ride from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft this week.  Tweets from the shooting survivors headed to the nation's capitol to lobby for gun law reform showed them with their families boarding the New England Patriots' planes. ...
Springfield’s Hartman Rock Garden seeking docents for guided tours
Springfield’s Hartman Rock Garden seeking docents for guided tours

A local nonprofit is seeking docents to guide tours at a historic Springfield site, the Hartman Rock Garden. The rock garden will host training next month for people interested in guiding tours at “one of the nation’s revered visionary art environments,” Springfield historian Kevin Rose said. PHOTO GALLERY: Hartman Rock Garden restoration...
More Stories