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Public Forum on Springfield Schools' Long Range Planning

Members of the public will have a chance next month to weigh in on an important education issue: improving schools in Springfield and consolidating small schools. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

A 22-member committee of community leaders meets every Wednesday to discuss long range planning for the district.

At its most recent meeting, the committee decided not to close Bissett and Bowerman elementary schools but will monitor them with the future possibility of combining Bissett and York together and Bowerman and Watkins.

Norm Ridder is the superintendent of Springfield Public Schools.

Ridder says he's neutral himself when it comes to closing smaller schools.

But he says the goal of the committee is to examine the district's facilities and decide which ones are suitable for educating children.

One of the committee members, Greene County Commissioner Roseann Bentley is a former state senator and former teacher.

She says she's reluctant to close small schools, especially ones that have high numbers of students on free and reduced lunch, a key poverty indicator.

Bentley says even though she feels strongly about the benefits of smaller schools, especially for children from poor areas, she says more services may be available to them in larger schools.

Even though Bentley says she can see both sides of the issue, she hopes the committee will move slowly and with extreme caution when it comes to consolidating small schools.

You'll have a chance to weigh in during the public forums next month.

Exact times and dates have not yet been set.