Former Kansas teachers settle into new Independence classrooms

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Independence voters wanted more teachers in their school district, and now, with the start of the year a week away, one elementary school is welcoming a new face from across the state line.

On Wednesday August 12, hundreds of little ones will walk up and down the hallways at Sycamore Hills Elementary School. The school has five new teachers, one of them, who uprooted her Kansas family to join this team.

Empty classrooms, unpacked boxes, and stacks of supplies are all proof that the start of school at Sycamore Hills Elementary is soon.

Principal Amber Miller said with the new school year comes "healthy nerves. It's more of an excitement."

The staff is excited because it's growing.

Miller said, "Voters passed a levy that allowed us to add, specifically for Sycamore, five new teachers."

Julie Campa is one of those five new faces.

"We feel part of their family already, and we've only been 'on the job' so to speak this last week," said Campa.

Campa and her husband, both new teachers in the Independence district, moved this summer from Wichita, Kansas. The pair taught in a district outside that city.

She said, "It was hard. We're coming from a smaller district which has a family feel too."

She'd already taken the new job before the Independence School District put up two billboards across the state line, they say to target Kansas teachers. It's a tactic the district says is used to bring the best to Missouri.

Miller said, "We are always watching for, or campaigning for, or putting ourselves in a position to receive the highest quality staff."

Campa didn't say whether school funding issues in her former state prompted her family's switch, but she does know of others who have done the same.

"I know some other teachers from Kansas have made it here as well," she said.

While her new boss says funding issues are shared by all districts, that won't be the focus for this staff and these teachers Wednesday. Instead, Campa will work to welcome the little faces that will fill her kindergarten classroom.

"I think Independence is a great place to be,” she said.

The superintendent from Campa's former district said the uncertainty of school funding in Kansas has made it hard for the Goddard School District to stay competitive. He also said they've lost "very, very good teachers" to the Independence School District. The Independence School District was looking for 45 new teachers after voters approved a 24-cent levy to lower class sizes.

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