By Joe Jarosz
March 2, 2016
KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Two and a half years of planning is done. Now comes implementation.
Last Wednesday, the Kansas City Public Schools Board of Education approved the district’s master plan with a vote of 7-2. While there will be no school closures in the Northeast, area families will still see some changes at the elementary, middle and high school level. The goal of the master plan is to ensure that KCPS is using its limited resources as effectively and efficiently as possible in order to give our students the best opportunity to succeed.
The biggest impact to Northeast residents will be boundary changes. School boundary changes will impact about 15 percent of the district’s roughly 15,000 students. The district also plans to increase bus service to reduce the distances that students walk to school, from one and a half miles to half a mile. Proximity of bus stops will also be improved, so students walk no more than two blocks to a bus stop.
Late last year, a middle school student was robbed at gunpoint while walking to school. Interim superintendent Al Tunis said safety is the highest priority for the district and its something that’s always on their mind, especially while school officials were putting together the master plan. He believes the new measures in regards to closer bus stops and shorter walking distances will keep students safer.
“Anything we can do to make things safer, we will do our best to implement,” Tunis said. “The greatest service we can provide to families is keeping their children safe.”
The master plan will also allow the KCPS to provide improved academic resources and options such as smaller class size for grades K-2, year-round school at four elementary schools, more electives and college and career pathways at the high schools, additional extra- and co-curricular activities, and facilities improvements. Outside the Northeast, the KCPS plans to close three schools; Satchel Paige Elementary School and Southwest Early College Campus while relocating Wendell Phillips Elementary School to the Crispus Attucks Elementary campus. The plan also calls for the restructuring of African-Centered Prep Elementary School to accommodate students up through eighth grade and the creation of a school within a school model (African-Centered school within a neighborhood school) at the Southeast High campus.
Along with other changes, KCPS officials are contacting parents to address how they will be impacted and to share ideas on how to make the transition as smooth as possible. Starting Thursday, Feb. 25, and running until Sunday, March 6, parents can also call the KCPS Master Plan Hotline at 816-418-8825 with any questions or concerns they have about upcoming changes. Parents and guardians can visit www.kcpublicschools.org/FindYourSchool to check which school their children will attend under the Master Plan based on their current addresses. Parents and guardians can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
KCPS Master Plan Background
In 2013, KCPS began the master planning process, it’s first since 2010. In April 2015, after completing a detailed technical assessment and a series of community discussions, master planning consultant MGT presented its assessment to the school board. In the summer/fall 2015, KCPS Administration reviewed and assessed the MGT findings and presented draft recommendations to the School Board on November 4, 2015. Between November 2015 and February 2016, KCPS staff collected feedback from students, parents, staff and community members about the draft recommendations. Since the process began, the KCPS held 116 meetings with 2,030 participants and received just under 5,000 survey responses and 1,647 Textizen poll participants. On February 10, 2016, KCPS Administration presented revised master plan recommendations to the Board of Education, which worked to address the additional ideas, concerns and priorities heard from the KCPS community.