Parents worry about funding for Springfield teacher visit progra - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Parents worry about funding for Springfield teacher visit program

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A revolutionary program in Springfield that parents are crediting with saving their kids' education is now in danger of being massively under-funded.

The Parent Teacher Home Visit Program has been used in Springfield for about 10 years. Now it's expanding to all elementary schools but partners with the program fear they could be stretching it too thin.

"They asked me about what were the hopes and dreams of my child's education," father of two Paul Lumpkin said of the program. 

Lumpkin is a single dad. It hasn't always been easy for his family but since his kids started participating in the visits with teachers, he's watched his 10-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son grow.

"It was an opportunity for me to be able to express to the teacher my experiences as a single parent," Lumpkin said. 

He's seen his daughter - a fourth grader go from the shyest in the class to a public speaker, even delivering testimony to the school committee and 250 other people on the value of the program. She now has aspirations for the future.

"Two things on my mind: a chef or a clothes designer," said Paul Lumpkin's daughter, Key'aurah Lumpkin.

Under the school budget passed Thursday night, superintendent Daniel Warwick says every elementary school will now have access to the program.

"We were able to fund the program and expand it so we were thrilled with that," Warwick said. 

The Pioneer Valley Project, which partners with Springfield schools and the Springfield Education Association to run the program, says they were looking for $200,000 in the current budget to keep it running for nine schools and maybe expand to several more. The school committee allocated $99,000 for all 33 elementary schools in the city.

Members of the Pioneer Valley Project like Director Tara Parrish say they're worried about what effect that will have on the impact of the program.

"That only leaves $3,000 per school so there's a real concern there about how we can effectively implement the program," Parrish said. 

Meantime, Paul Lumpkin has become more involved and hopes to see it remain and benefit other kids.

"This is a real opportunity for parents to connect with the school district in a meaningful way and actually make a difference," he said. 

Springfield is only the second city in the country to adopt this program.

They hope to help continue to pay for it by using unallocated funds at the end of the school year.

Copyright 2015 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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