(Update 4/24 3:15 p.m.)
A place that once poured knowledge into the minds of thousands of children could have new life as a safe haven for victims of crime if Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson has his way.
Patterson proposed to the Springfield R-12 School Board a partnership where the school district would allow the Family Justice Center to move into the former Tefft school on East Pythian Street. The move would allow the Center to expand from its current space of about 3,000 square feet to over 20,000 square feet.
“It checks a lot of boxes,” Prosecutor Patterson told OI. “It’s centrally located, it’s close to the courthouse, it’s within walking distance of a bus route, easily accessible from Chestnut Expressway and Glenstone Avenue.”
If the school board decides to work with the Family Justice Center, Patterson believes it won’t take very long to be able to get the school building renovated to their needs.
“I think it’s realistic that we could be in there by the end of the year,” Patterson said. “There’s a lot of steps that we will need to go through to get there such as minor modifications to the building, getting a conditional overlay for the office use of the building, as well as working out the details of the transfer.”
The Family Justice Center is a partnership between multiple organizations and government entities that work to support victims of crime: The Victim Center, Harmony House, Legal Services of Southern Missouri, the Child Advocacy Center, the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney & Sheriff’s Office, the City of Springfield, Children’s & Child Support Divisions and the Springfield Police Department.
The Center is currently working through the process to become a 501(c)3 nonprofit that would allow them to apply for grants and allow donations to be tax-deductible.
Tim Rosenbury, president of the School Board, initially is looking favorably on the idea.
“The board appreciated prosecutor Patterson’s group’s interest in the property, particularly in how they would use the building,” Rosenbury told OI. “We see them doing some of the same work of Springfield Public Schools so it’s an excellent use of a building that’s no longer in use.”