KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Students, parents and alumni sounded off on a proposed plan to close 10 Kansas City schools again Wednesday night.
The idea comes from a Kansas City Public Schools planning effort called Blueprint 2030. But the proposal calls for shutting down Central High at the end of this school year. Hundreds who gathered Wednesday made it clear it won’t happen without a fight.
The list of 8 elementary schools and two high schools proposed to close and be converted to other uses came out last week.
“The reaction is one of shock and dismay, an institution established in 1884 (has) been a part of the KC school system for 138 years,” Central High Alumni Association Chairman Rev. Garry Cain said.
Central High has a rich history of athletics with legendary basketball coach Jack Bush and famous alumni like Walt Disney.
“Our staff loves our kids. Please don’t do this to our history and close this amazing facility. It’s so incredibly awesome,” Central High’s swimming coach told the district.
Most of the hundreds who came out for a forum Wednesday night signed petitions to save the school, with the district saying right now it’s just a proposal.
“There will be an intent to preserve the history of the particular school regardless of which one it is,” said Charnissa Holliday Scott, KCPS interim chief of staff.
Blueprint 2030 calls for closing schools in a district facing dwindling enrollment and using the money saved to invest in increased student programs.
Students at the forum expressed concerns about safety, being forced to go to a new school.
“The dropout rate will increase because a lot of students will have to choose between their lives and education,” said Nemiah Jones, Central High’s vice president of student council.
“Central High School has all the tools to be successful. It makes no sense to send these kids half way across town to the unknown,” Jack Bush’s grandson Chris Boyer said.
Some think the decision to close the district’s newest high school building is motivated by the school’s racial makeup, not finances.
“This school is a modern school, so you can do what is necessary and keep this school open,” a 1960 Central High graduate said.
But if it is about money, the alumni association said they’ll find it.
“We can petition not just the KC school system, Kansas City, Jefferson City, the State Legislature and if need be we need to go the federal government of the United States to try to find the funding to give the students what they need,” Cain said.
The Central High Alumni Association is also making plans for a letter writing campaign and phone drive to save the school before a final decision is made in December.
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