KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Hickman Mills School District started tearing down two former elementary schools Friday.

District leaders said renovating existing schools in combination with demolition of blighted school buildings will make way for growth in the school district as new, modern classrooms are constructed.

Leaders said Symington and Johnson elementary schools have been vacant for quite some time, becoming a source of vandalism and fires.

Replacing these buildings with modern schools, in combination with the school board’s action Thursday night to boost teacher pay, are key elements of a plan to help the district become one of the better school systems in Kansas City.

“We want to make sure our assets are valuable to the community, not only in the realm of education, but in that we are taking care of our property,” said DaRon McGee, school board president. “This is one small step to get there.”

Voters in the district have approved $50 million in bonds during the last two years.

That includes $20 million earmarked for establishing a new middle school and tearing down or renovating buildings that have become blighted. Leaders said the remaining $30 million will pay for other improvements and upgrades across the school district.

Demolition of the two schools is expected to be completed by next summer.

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