Hartman Elementary welcomes students from Hale Cook — for now

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The troubled Kansas City school district today welcomed new families on the first day of school. Despite being unaccredited, the district opened a new school today after parents in the Waldo neighborhood asked for it. Hale Cook Elementary soon may become a neighborhood school that attracts more families back to the district.

The old school building is undergoing some rehabilitation, so it's not ready for students yet. But that didn't stop the school district today from re-opening Hale Cook school in another nearby school building.

27 kindergartners and first-graders are part of the new school. Until the Hale Cook building is ready for them, they're attending classes at Hartman elementary as part of a school within a school.

The district says parent interest in reopening smith hale shows increased confidence that more people have in the quality of education the district is providing.

"Many of the parents chose us over charter school options they have, crossing state lines and other kinds of options they had, they wanted to be here in this area," said Superintendent Steven Green. "I think they see the healthy partnership that exists, the willingness of the district to engage in out of the box thinking, in a way to make things happen."

Friends of Hale Cook wanted a elementary school in their Waldo neighborhood, and they are confident the Kansas City district can provide as good an education as anyone else.

"It's so convenient where I can drop off and then go to work," said Brittany Holly, a parent who is sending her daughter to the new Hale Cook school. "I can come back here and it's just right by the house. So it's a convenience thing at the least."

Holly says she attended the school herself as a child and is happy now that her daughter will be able to return to the Hale Cook. Parents say if their kids have a good year at Hartman it will encourage others in the neighborhood to give the new Hale Cook a try.

Green says academic achievement should help lure more parents back to the district. He expects Kansas City schools to make big improvements this year, regaining provisional accreditation. In fact, Green says he's now focused on full accreditation for the district.

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