Kansas City district weighing school consolidations, closures; public meetings planned

Education

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – There’s renewed “right-sizing” talk in Kansas City Public Schools.

It’s been about a decade since leaders closed 29 schools due to declining enrollment. With numbers still dropping, that could happen again.

Kansas City Public Schools is looking at consolidating some of its schools, but they’re not making any decisions without hearing from the public first.

“Do I love the idea of schools closing? Absolutely not. Do I understand that it’s a need? I do,” Kansas City Teacher’s Union President Jason Roberts said.

He’s had several meetings with the superintendent about the plan – Blueprint 2030 – to decide the future of the district.

With more than 14,000 students, Kansas City’s enrollment has steadily been falling over the years. Enrollment now is significantly less than half of what it was in 2000.

The district expects to lose another 1,400 students in the next five years.

A committee studying the issue suggests the district set a minimum number of students for a school to operate: 400 at elementary schools, 600 at middle schools, and 1,000 at high schools.

The district said 26 of their 32 schools do not hit their school size standards. And it said combining some schools would improve the school experience, sports and other programs.

Roberts said he understands the need to right size, but does not believe it should add up to massive job cuts.

“I think we need to retain as many teachers and support staff as possible,” Roberts said. “So that we can lower our class sizes and not max them out.”

He said that will keep them competitive with surrounding districts and charters schools.

This year marked the first time more students in Kansas City attended charter schools than public schools.

“We have phone calls from parents, constantly,” Guadalupe Centers Charter Principal Claudia Meyer said, “emails, ‘Can you please make room for my child’.”

Meyer said they’ve seen a lot more interest for Guadalupe Centers charter and a waiting list to get in.

“When a student leaves our school, for whatever reason, we call the next student in line and that spot is filled instantly,” Meyer said.

The district is holding a series of virtual and in-person meetings next week to discuss the plan.

The KCPS Board of Education meets Wednesday. An update to Blueprint 2030 is on the agenda.

These are open houses for current and future KCPS families, as well as, anyone with an interest in public education:

  • Monday, Oct. 18 
    • 12-1 p.m. Facebook Live with KCPS Superintendent Mark Bedell 
    • 4:30-6:30 p.m. Blueprint 2030 open house at Phillips Elementary 
  • Tuesday, Oct. 19 
  • Wednesday, Oct. 20 
    • 5-7 p.m. Blueprint 2030 open house at Central Middle School 
  • Thursday, Oct. 21 
  • Friday, Oct. 22 
    • 9-10:30 a.m. Blueprint 2030 open house at Hale Cook Elementary 

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