Springfield Public schools prepares for the 2023-2024 school year
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Summer is over for the more than 24 thousand students in Springfield Public Schools as it is back to the classroom next week.
First-grade through twelfth-grade students will return on Monday while kindergarteners go back on Tuesday and preschoolers start the 2023-2024 school year on Wednesday.
Western Mass News getting answers from Springfield Public Schools Superintendent Dan Warwick on how his district has been getting ready.
“It’s a large district. a large group of employees. and given the challenges with staff across every sector, it has kept us extremely busy, this spring and summer,” said Warwick.
Aside from hiring staff, one focus this summer, improving infrastructure. In addition to the funding from the Massachusetts School Authority Board, 50 million dollars was also allocated from local funds.
“The buildings weren’t maintained as they should have been. we are moving up towards $1 billion of projects with MSBA with new buildings but also with accelerated repairs. so as you go by new buildings, you will see new roofs, new windows, doors, things like that,” said Warwick.
One of those many construction projects done ahead of this upcoming school year is the Homer Street School which was originally built back in the 1800s.
“Just what our kids deserve with modern technology and all of the nice amenities. We will be replacing the Homer Street School that was built in 1898, our last building that was built in the 1800s that we are using in the city of Springfield,” said Warwick.
The Homer Street School will reopen this year as the Benjamin Swan Elementary School, in honor of the longtime civil rights activist and politician in the city.
The Deberry-Swan Elementary School will open its doors to welcome students next week as well. The state-of-the-art building is part of a 95-million-dollar construction project and will house students from both Deberry and Homer.
“The building is absolutely incredible. We used a lot of design features that we built in at Brentwood and Lincoln, which has been really incredible. Brentwood Lincoln was the first school in the state where we did two schools and one and now the state has modeled that program as a way to accelerate the replacement of some really older buildings,” said Warwick.
Another change coming this year. The German Gerena Elementary School is piloting a dual language program allowing students in pre-k and kindergarten to learn in both English and Spanish.
“It’s a pilot program. Parents got to choose so it is all voluntary but we are really excited about that. we have one at the secondary and high school level but this has been something that we have been working out. and we have been able to staff that because those are very complicated licensure pieces,” said Warwick.
While Warwick and his staff are looking forward to the year ahead, there is still work to be done to get students back on track post covid.
“The truth is, we are still in the recovery mode. You can still see scores, increasing and achievements increasing, but we are not back to 2019. There was a tremendous amount of learning loss that occurred and it has been a herculean effort trying to catch up. It is an enormous challenge that will not be fixed overnight,” said Warwick.
Springfield Public Schools is hosting a back-to-school celebration at Blunt Park this Saturday from 11 to 1. The event is free and open to the public. Thousands of backpacks will be given out to students along with food, music, and games.
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