“This is a monumental development for our community and something that we’ve been working towards for years,” said Superintendent of Schools Daniel Warwick, “To have the ability to provide a pre-school foundation for our students before they start kindergarten is going to greatly influence their readiness and really help to set our youngest students up for academic success right from the start.”
In addition to securing preschool classes in every elementary school, the preschool expansion includes the development of a new preschool-only school at 111 Seymour Avenue, which currently houses the administration of the Springfield Virtual School. The School Committee’s approval of the FY23 budget sets the stage for Springfield Public Schools to become the first district in the Commonwealth to provide free, universal full-day preschool for 3- and 4- year old students.
Warwick said the newly adopted FY23 budget continues to prioritize social emotional, and counseling supports for all students, including extending the reach of City Connects to all schools. City Connect programming addresses social/emotional and other non-academic needs by connecting students and even their families to resources designed to address their particular need.
“We have found that providing wrap-around services for students and their families has been a great value-add for the District and we have moving towards being able to provide this service districtwide for many years now,” said Warwick.
The general fund budget is $545.3 million for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23). The proposed budget won the School Committee’s approval during a special meeting on Thursday, May 5th. It becomes effective July 1st.
Warwick said the budget also allocates $14.3 million of Student Opportunity Act funds to schools to spend on evidence-based programs to support highest-need student groups. These programs include increased personnel and services to support holistic student needs, inclusion/co-teaching for students with disabilities and English learners, supporting educators to implement high-quality, aligned curriculum, and community partnerships for in-school enrichment and wraparound services. Warwick added that the $14.3 million figure is double Student Opportunity Act funding the District was able to offer schools last year.
“This forward momentum would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of the School Committee,” said Warwick. “I’d like to thank Mayor Sarno and the entire Committee for their tireless work throughout the budgeting process,” Warwick also recognized the district’s award-winning Business Department, which leads the budgeting process annually.