By Leslie Collins
Instead of student’s voices ringing through the halls, there is now an eerie silence.
Once the heart of neighborhoods, 37 Kansas City Missouri School District (KCMSD) school buildings are sitting vacant, gathering dust.
But, they haven’t been forgotten.
Last year, KCMSD closed the buildings as part of its “right-sizing” plan to keep the district afloat. Now, it’s launching a year-long repurposing initiative to find other uses for the buildings.
Director of the Repurposing Initiative Shannon Jaax said KCMSD is seeking and encouraging community input.
“These buildings were once centers of communities,” she said. “There’s a lot of community activity going on and they’re often viewed as community assets.”
KCMSD understands the negative impact a vacant building can have on a neighborhood, she said.
“As we look to identify what types of reuses are possible, the community really needs to have a major say in that because these (buildings) impact their daily lives.
“The district recognizes these (buildings) have the opportunity to be a major asset for the community. We’re making sure they’re going to be assets to the neighborhoods, not a negative to the community.”
Re-purposing plans will be community-driven, she said, and several organizations have already voiced interest in repurposing certain buildings.
“Most of those have been from non-profit organizations, schools or private entities,” Jaax said.
KCMSD will host two district-wide meetings in April to explain the repurposing initiative and how the community can become involved. Jaax stressed community meetings will be held in both English and Spanish. Meeting dates are still being discussed.
Once those meetings are held, the district will organize building tours for the public and interested entities.
“It’s a great opportunity for the district to get feedback from the community on how they view the building and the site, what they consider assets, and what issues or concerns they have,” Jaax said of the tours. “We’ll start talking about neighborhood needs and how the building or site can help address some of those needs.”
For more information, visit www.kcmsd.net and click on “repurposing information.” To be added to the e-mailing list, e-mail email@example.com.