KANSAS CITY, Mo. — At Wednesday night’s Kansas City, Missouri, Public Schools board meeting, a recommendation was heard concerning the closure or repurposing of 10 schools, including two high schools and eight elementary schools.
Such a change aligns with the district’s “Blueprint 2030” which is set to prioritize budget redistribution, new facilities, alternative learning models and school mergers.
“We’re spread too thin across too many schools given the population of the students we serve,” said Nate Hogan, KCPS school board member.
If the proposal to close Central High School in the fall of 2023 moves forward, those students would be moved to Southeast High School.
The Central High School building would then be converted for other uses by the district.
Other recommendations discussed Wednesday include:
- Longfellow Elementary School would be repurposed in the fall of 2023, with students transitioned to Garcia and Hale Cook elementary schools.
- Troost Elementary School would be repurposed in the fall of 2023, with students transitioned to Hartman and Banneker elementary schools.
- James Elementary School would be repurposed in the fall of 2023, with students transitioned to Gladstone Elementary School.
- King Elementary School would be converted into KCPS use in the fall of 2024, with students transitioned to Hartman, Faxon/New Construction King and Melcher elementary schools.
- Wheatley Elementary School would be repurposed in the fall of 2024, with students transitioned to Phillips and Rogers elementary schools.
Kata Jones, senior at Central High School, thinks the merging of two campus cultures will provide difficulties.
“Chaos, to be honest. That’s two rival schools. That’s not gonna be a good thing,” Jones said.
Interim Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Collier addressed how the district will help ease any transitions at a media press conference Thursday morning.
“We’re going to put transition teams in place that help address both of those communities — the families and our staff — to help walk them through this process in making sure the schools can merge comfortably and that everyone feels welcomed and a part of those new communities,” Collier said. “Having family nights in the new school where families are connected, maybe even by grade level — all freshmen parents coming together to meet one another and then opportunities for students to merge and do some activities.”
Jones’ biggest concern is transportation to a school farther away and more crowded classrooms. He says the current call time for students is already too early and Central High School has been struggling with a lack of teachers for some time.
“I don’t think it’s worth it,” Jones said. “I think the overall objective is to get kids in school, and that’s going to be the main problem. So I think all that can wait.”
The district says current staff will not be affected by the recommendations.
“If we have a surplus of teachers, that’s great, because we can utilize all of those certified, highly effective staff to really work with our children, perhaps some one-on-one with students, which we can’t do that now,” Collier said.
Closing down10 existing campuses would free up additional money that can be put toward bettering curriculum, according to the district.
“You’ll have beyond-the-four-walls learning experiences,” Collier said. “They’ll have instrumental music in kindergarten, they’ll have world language beginning in kindergarten, we will have flushed out career pathways and opportunities for our secondary students.”
Looking to the future, Victor Alfonso, an alumnus of Central High School, says he is sad to possibly see his school disappear. Although, he thinks the additional resources for programs like STEM is important enough.
“It’s really good for the students because a lot of people didn’t have the opportunities that are given to students now,” Alfonso said.
To reiterate the importance of community feedback in considering such recommendations, KCPS will be hosting a series of open forums starting next week.
“We know people are going to be emotional about it, but we also need solutions. What are some solutions to perhaps what we put forward?” Collier said.
The first feedback session is set for 6-7:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 17, at the Southeast Community Center, 3400 E. 63rd St.