Middle schools could make a comeback in Kansas City

By LESLIE COLLINS
Northeast News
January 23, 2013 

Kansas City Public Schools is considering reinstating its middle schools. Three years ago, the district shuttered its middle schools as part of the right-sizing initiative to balance the budget and because KCPS wasn’t getting the results it wanted academically, said KCPS Public Relations Manager Andre Riley. KCPS currently houses kindergarten through sixth grades in the same building, and for high school, grades seventh through 12th.

Parents, however, are asking KCPS officials to consider re-establishing the middle school system of housing only seventh and eighth graders in one building.

“Our parents feel those students would be better served in middle schools in a setting designed specifically for them,” Riley said.

To discuss the possibility of re-instating a middle school system, KCPS is seeking parents, community members and KCPS employees to serve on the Middle School Advisory Committee. The committee would meet once a month from January to May to discuss options, like building designs, curriculum and activities, and assist KCPS in its decision. An educational consultant that specializes in middle school transitions will also be involved. Deadline for applications for the Middle School Advisory Committee is Jan. 24.

To further garner feedback, KCPS will host community forums and will send surveys to parents of current third and fourth graders, since those students will be in seventh and eighth grades by the fall of 2014.

Asked where KCPS would house the middle schoolers, KCPS Chief Communications and Community Engagement Officer Eileen Houston-Stewart said KCPS would use its mothballed buildings, which are not part of the re-purposing initiative. If KCPS decides to adopt the middle school concept, the district would hire architects to analyze and reconfigure the mothballed buildings for middle school use.

Signature schools, like  Lincoln College Preparatory Academy, Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts and Southwest Early College Campus, would most likely not be affected. Schools affected by the change would include East High School, Northeast High School and Central Academy of Excellence.

For proposed school sites, KCPS will garner public input before moving forward.  If the committee and KCPS decide to adopt the middle school concept, KCPS would re-instate middle schools in August of 2014.

“I think it’s pretty exciting,” Houston-Stewart said of the proposed middle school system. “It’s going to be interesting to see if parents want us to move in this direction.”

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