KCPS redistributing location of pre-K seats, number available remain unchanged

Elizabeth Orosco
Northeast News

Kansas City Public Schools will be maintaining the same number of pre-K seats available this fall, but will be redistributing those seats to meet demand.

For the 2019-2020 school year, KCPS is offering 1,268 pre-K seats, which is unchanged from the current academic year.

The major change taking place is the reduction of seats at Primitivo Garcia Elementary, located on the westside, from 80 seats to 40 seats. These 40 seats will be given to Trailwoods Elementary, on the eastside, which previously held no pre-K seats at all.

With each pre-K class holding no more than 20 students, this will reduce the number of pre-K classes at Primitivo Garcia from four to two, increasing Trailwoods pre-K classes from zero to two.

Other pre-K seat distribution changes will affect African-Centered College Preparatory Academy – Lower Campus, Border Star Montessori, Central High School (Early Head Start Program), J.A. Rogers Elementary, John T. Hartman Elementary, Hale Cook Elementary, Harold Holliday, Sr. Montessori, Longfellow Elementary, Pitcher Elementary, Richardson Early Childhood Community School, and Woodland Early Childhood Community School.

This decision was based on demand, said KCPS Enrollment Director, Garrett Webster.

“The district is divided up by zones,” said Webster, “and we looked at how we can evenly distribute those seats based upon the demand. Demand is based upon our wait lists last year from pre-K applications.”

The school district is divided into four “zones,” which include North Zone, East Zone, Central Zone, and South Zone.

In the North Zone, which encompasses the majority of the Northeast community, the available KCPS Elementary Schools include Primitivo Garcia, Garfield, Gladstone, James, Whittier, and Phillips. Also available in the North Zone is Woodland Early Learning Center, a Head Start School. Only Primitivo Garcia and Woodland Early Learning Center offer pre-K.

Of the KCPS Elementary Schools in the North Zone, Primitivo Garcia will offer 40 pre-K seats for the upcoming 2019-2020 school year. Woodland Early Learning Center will offer 240 pre-K seats, but parents must meet income eligibility requirements to qualify.

On the topic of accessibility, Webster said it is interesting to hear the terminology that is used.

“Everyone uses the word ‘access,’” he said. “When we look at what that word really means, it means– in its simplest form–  that you can apply. Right now, everybody has access. There isn’t anyone that doesn’t.”

However, not all those that apply are granted admission. Several Kansas City families are placed on wait lists for the schools.

Webster said for those families in the Northeast who don’t qualify for Woodland Early Learning Center Head Start, they can apply for any other preschool that KCPS offers.

“Parents that don’t qualify for Head Start,” said Webster, “are able to put their students in any of our other programs like Garcia, Rogers, or Trailwoods. But those seats are given first to students that live in the neighborhood and then are given to those who qualify for free and reduced lunch once those seats are dispersed.”

Enrollment is currently closed for KCPS Montessori schools: Holliday and Border Star, but enrollment will remain open until the first day of school for the remaining schools.

Webster said they continue to pull from the wait list during the entire school year, as students stop attending or are withdrawn.

“A lot of students get withdrawn from the program for just not coming,” he said. “It does require that parents adhere to the rules and regulations to stay in the program, so that parents who really want it and need it can use the seats.”

When asked what it would take for more pre-K seats to become available to Kansas City residents, he said they would need to look at a few factors.

“Part of it involves building capacity,” said Webster. “Many of our buildings in our Northeast area serve a large portion of K-6 students and building-wise, don’t even necessarily have a classroom that is available for pre-K. I’m not sure how that would look, but the first thing we would look at is building capacity, and the other thing, as it relates to adding seats, is funding. The funding is a big part of how we distribute our seats.”

Parents who have a preschool-aged student and are interested in applying can visit the online application at kcpsonline.net/login to enroll.

Questions about the enrollment process can be directed to the Admissions Office by calling 816-418-7505 or visiting the KCPS Board of Education building, which is located at 2901 Troost Ave., Kansas City, MO.

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