Dear Board Members and Superintendent Bedell,
In 2010 The Kansas City School Board was faced with many tough decisions. The district had 61 open schools and many were half empty. The district had a capacity for 75,000 students and an enrollment of only 17,500 Students. A right-sizing plan was implemented allowing the district to eliminate a 12.8 million monthly budget deficit, reduce redundant administrative costs and begin to address long term building deferred maintenance. The majority of the school buildings needed many repairs and lacked air conditioning. The plan was dramatic but needed to save a district on the brink of insolvency. We could not continue to spend more than we were receiving.
Right-sizing the district has had wide spread positive long term impact that has gone well beyond the students in each building and has impacted every neighborhood in our city. Investment in public education is a decision that benefits the entire city.
One of those tough decisions was to consolidate middle schools and high schools, but the board promised that when the district had stabilized that it would reevaluate this decision. Placing middle and high school students together in the same building presented social and emotional challenges for students, staff and parents.
As the district stabilized, the board began to reopen middle schools at Northeast and Central. Now is the time to reopen Lincoln Middle School. Lincoln is the crown jewel of the district and the city. It is a blue ribbon school and is rated our states most challenging school by the Washington Post newspaper and ranked in the top 100 high schools in the United States. The graduates of the school go on to attend some of our nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities and become leaders in their professions around the globe.
Lincoln’s high standards, international baccalaureate curriculum and remarkable results have made it the top educational choice for many Kansas City families. The school’s world class recognition has increased its popularity and caused classrooms and hallways to be filled to capacity with students in grades from 6 through 12. Parents, teachers, students and community leaders have asked for years for the middle school to be reopened.
There are many reasons to support the reopening of Lincoln Middle. The most important reason is that there is not enough room at Lincoln for even the current students. In 2016, Sixty percent of the respondents to a public survey about the proposed reopening stated they don’t like the fact that middle and high school students were in the same building at Lincoln. Dedicated middle schools are critical for students during this of period of change from elementary to high school. This transition period is a vital step in the growth process and development from youth to adult.
Something must be done; the status quo is severely limiting the ability of Lincoln to grow, improve and ensure more students have the opportunity to attend Lincoln but cannot, due to space limitations. Reopening Lincoln Middle would open the opportunity for more students to gain an IB education that will give them an invaluable head start in life and their future.
Superintendent Mark Bedell, principals, teachers and support staff and every member of the Kansas City Public Schools are dedicated to improving the quality of education in Kansas City Missouri. A reopened Lincoln Middle will fit perfectly into our school district. The public has spoken loudly in support of this proposal.
I strongly urge the School Board to unanimously approve Superintendent Bedell’s plan to reopen Lincoln Middle and expand the opportunity for more students in our city to attend this prestigious institution of learning and keep the promise that was made to parents, Kansas City residents and voters during a time when the district was at the brink of insolvency, uncertainty and just starting the journey to a new future.
Joseph C. Jackson Sr.
Former Board Member,