North KC school district considers expansion project

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NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The North Kansas City School District has to deal with 200 to 300 new students each year. A growing student body is a good problem to have, but costly to fix. That’s what the North Kansas City School District is facing now.

“I have practiced in a closet, I’ve practiced in our band director’s office, percussion closet, cafeteria, hallways,” said Josh Kelley who just graduated from North Kansas City High.

Kelley said you can feel the overcrowding every year. The band student said every inch of space is used, but there’s not enough to go around.

“Packed like sardines in this tiny little band room. The tuba players in the back, the massive tubas are towering over the entire band, the percussion players are just backed right up to the students. When you have 140 kids and a band in a room at the same time trying to play together, it doesn’t go very well,” he said.

To accommodate the growing population, the North Kansas City school district asked voters to approve a $114 million, no tax increase, bond issue in August. Money will go toward renovating a 90-year-old building.

“The parts we’re going to save is practically irreplaceable. The football stadium, the WPA wall, the primary building, we’re going to reuse those,” said “Terry Ward, the Board of Education President.

$40 million will be spent to build two new elementary schools. An existing middle and elementary school will be converted to house only 6th graders called the 6th Grade Center. That will free up space in the remaining schools and pull the student body within planned capacity. All these changes are dependent on if the voters pass the bond issue.

“It’s deathly in need of renovations because we don’t have any room at all,” Kelley said.

Kelley has already graduated but hopes to come back some day to see the changes.

The bond issue will appear on the August 2nd ballot. Supporters said the bonds won’t raise property taxes. But if the issue doesn’t pass, the district said it will only be able to make minor renovations to existing schools.