By Joe Jarosz
June 25, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Bonjour to new opportunities for Kansas City students.
On Friday, representatives of the Kansas City Public Schools and Académie Lafayette gathered on the Southwest Early College Campus to announce the partnership of a new academically rigorous, foreign-language focused international Baccalaureate charter high school. If approved by Kansas City residents and the respective boards, the partnership, which has been years in the making, will begin in time for the 2015-16 school year at Southwest Early College Campus, 6512 Wornall Road.
The combination of district and charter students will be operated academically by Académie Lafayette, a French-immersion public charter school. During the partnership, the KCPS will retain the ownership of the high school.
At the joint press conference announcing the proposed high school, Jonathan Hile, chair of the Kansas City Public Schools Board of Directors, said the announcement was just the beginning. Hile added the board of directors has unanimously supported the partnership and by the fall, he hopes a formal partnership and agreement can come before the board for approval.
“We’ll be hosting a series of meetings throughout the summer to engage the public and solicit feedback,” Hile said. “I want to stress that feedback is a crucial part of the final proposal. We’ll work with the community on the final agreement before it comes before the board.”
Dr. R. Stephen Green, superintendent of the KCPS, said the vision of the proposal is equal contribution of students in the charter high school from the KCPS and the French-immersion schools. Although not at the point yet in the proposal, Green imagined students from the KCPS would go through a selective application process similar to the district’s Lincoln College Preparatory Academy. Students graduating from the charter’s schools would feed into the school.
“The Kansas City Public School students can come from any school in the district,” Green said.
Green added everyone is still exploring the terms of the agreement. He said his sincere hope is a win for every family in the KCPS district boundaries. The vision, he continued, would be a true partnership from both organizations. The current terms call for a focus on foreign-language education with international, “top flight faculty.”
“In this model, KCPS students will remain KCPS students,” Green said, explaining all KCPS students in the charter high school will continue to receive programs and benefits provided by the KCPS.
Should the two organizations move to this model, Green acknowledged some 360 students would be affected by this change. He said he’ll soon begin meeting with families one-on-one who may be affected to discuss and share options they will have. Options, Green said, include applying for the new charter high school, applying to Lincoln College Prep or any other signature school.
“The important thing is the choice will be the family’s choice and not our decision,” Green said.
David Cozad, president of Académie Lafayette Board of Directors, said he’s excited about the high school possibilities for the nearly 800 Académie Lafayette students, excited for the possibilities for students across Kansas City and excited to prepare students for the 21st century world they live in. Cozad clarified the charter high school will not be French-immersion, but the core curriculum will be taught in English. He added he imagines the first year will contain about 100 to 120 students with more in the future.
Cozad added that Académie Lafayette already has plans, if the partnership is approved, to make physical changes to the building to better the learning environment for the students. The changes, he said, are those they want to make and if they wanted to open the school tomorrow, the building would be ready.
“We’re ready to leverage our 15 years of excellence and create a high school, an internationally focused high school, that will take kids who want to be part of that global village out there,” Cozad said. “They’re going to be taught by an international teaching staff who will teach them about cultural differences around the world.”
The Kansas City Public Schools will host the following meetings to inform, engage with and solicit feedback from the KCPS community regarding the proposed partnership:
• 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 8, at the Paseo Academy, 4747 Paseo Ave.
• 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 22, at the Paseo Academy, 4747 Paseo Ave.
More meetings will be announced in the coming weeks. For more information about the partnership, visit www.kcpublicschools/alhs.