School leaders: New Springfield High School structure working so far

Springfield High School students change class. Bill Lackey/Staff

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Springfield High School students change class. Bill Lackey/Staff

Springfield High School students completed about half of the first year without academies last week and school leaders say overall it’s been a good change.

Previously Springfield High School students chose one of five academies that each had a principal — Health and Human Services; Visual and Performing Arts; Business and Law; Digital Media and Communications; and Science, Technology, Engineering, Applied Arts, and Math. But the academies didn’t have an even distribution of students, resulting in some counselors with too many students and others with not enough.

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So Springfield City School District moved away from academies over the summer and instead opted for a more traditional one high school with one principal structure.

“The structure we have now is a more balanced way to run a high school,” Springfield Board of Education President Ed Leventhal said.

About 1,650 students are enrolled at Springfield High School, according to the Ohio Department of Education. The change at the high school is a good one, Springfield City School District Superintendent Bob Hill said.

“Based on my time at the high school and my conversations with the SHS team, I believe that the change has been welcomed by the majority of the staff and students much faster and more thoroughly than our initial expectations,” Hill said in an email.

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The structure is new, Hill said, and he is excited about the future of the high school.

“Change is a difficult process and we are extremely proud of the students, staff and parents for embracing it. It is worth noting that SHS is now able to provide new offerings like career planning and senior capstone experiences, which ultimately lead to better service for our students,” Hill said.

The new lead principal, Patrick Smith, also said students and staff are adjusting well.

“The change has been positive in creating a singular culture and a shared vision and mission that was not as prevalent during the academy structure,” Smith said. “The change has allowed us to focus more deliberately on the Ohio five-step improvement process and to maximize our scheduling options, which is work that continues into the new few years.”

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The school also hired an extra counselor, which Leventhal said was an important change.

“That balances their workload better as well,” he said. “Fortunately we had some resources so we were able to do that.”

The school needs to make sure students are getting one-on-one time with counselors and teachers to make sure they are prepared to pass tests, Hill has said.

Now with six counselors, students are assigned a counselor based on their last name instead of their academy and the counselors stay with those students until graduation.

“Some of the academies were very full and the teachers and counselors were slammed,” Leventhal said.

The high school staff will continue to work to get better, Smith said, and give Springfield High School students the best education possible.

“The single school model has brought everyone together in a unified sense where all victories and challenges are universally shared,” Smith said.

By the number

7,719: Students enrolled in Springfield City Schools.

6: Number of counselors at Springfield High School.

1,650: Students enrolled at Springfield High School.

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