KSNF/KODE — While many of us may still be recovering from the presents, food, and fun of Christmas, many local leaders are looking ahead to the new year, and what it means for schools, government, and even our digital lives

2022 has been a busy year for the Neosho School District.

“We have three different building projects that will have started. Obviously, the Performing Arts Center, we have been FEMA shelter that we hope to finish up, and then we will start the rise Academy demolition,” said Richie Fretwell, Neosho Asst. Supt.

2023 will see those open. They’re also hoping to launch a new daycare facility for the children of teachers and staff.

“We’re still trying to finalize the contract. We hope to get that up and going at the beginning of the year and hopefully have it open August next year,” said Fretwell.

Childcare is also a focus for the Carthage School District. They want to add that as a focus at the tech center to train and expand the local workforce.

“I think that’s a need all across the region. You look at some of the different efforts being led by different economic development groups and just different groups within the community. You talk to anyone that’s got a younger kid, they’re struggling to find childcare,” said Gage Tiller, Carthage CTC Dir.

Meanwhile in Webb City, building a strong workforce on campus is in the spotlight in 2023.

“Substitutes continue to be an issue. Really, when we look into the recruiting of next year, we still, you know, we don’t know what the spring holds for us. Not as many people are getting into teaching, which you know, is really an honorable and needed profession,” said Tony Rossetti, WC R-7 Supt.

And in Joplin, 2023 changes will start quickly.

There’s the big opening of the newest school, Dover Hill Elementary, on January 4th.

“That’s going to be a big change for both Columbia and West Central buildings. Now, they’ve been known as Dover this whole first semester, but they’re actually going to be in the new building to start the year,” said Kerry Sachetta, Joplin Schools Supt.

District leadership could also be changing with a contested school board election this spring.

And even the educational model for five-year-olds could be tweaked with the addition of a concept called “transitional kindergarten.”

“It’s another opportunity for some students who maybe had late birthdays who weren’t quite ready for school based on their preschool experience or just needing a little bit more time, smaller class size, and a little bit of change in the curriculum as far as working with other students and to help them be ready to progress to the first grade,” said Sachetta.

It’s likely all Missouri schools will take a closer look at math and reading skills after a decline in test scores through the pandemic.