Superintendent discusses possibly closing, consolidating Kansas City Public Schools

News

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The discussion surrounding the closing and consolidation of Kansas City, Missouri Public Schools continues.

The first of several open houses this week happened Monday evening at Phillips Elementary School.

“Many people have this fear that the school district is going away – that is so far from the truth,” Superintendent Dr. Mark Bedell said.

Bedell said KCPS is here to stay, but the closing of some schools is being considered in the plan Blueprint 2030.

“We are running a very large school district in terms of the facilities we are utilizing and then the number of students just doesn’t mix,” Bedell said. “This has to be a community-driven plan.”

This past year, for the first time ever, more Kansas City kids enrolled in charter schools than public schools.

A committee looking at the issue has suggested minimum enrollment numbers at every school — at least 400 kids at every elementary school, 600 at every middle school and 1,000 at every high school.

Right now, only six of 32 schools meet minimum enrollment standards.

Twenty years ago, the district had more than 33,000 students. Today, that number has dropped to 14,000 kids and by 2026, they expect to lose another 1,400 kids.

During an Instagram live, Bedell spent time comparing KCPS to similar-sized districts.

“We have seven high school offerings,” Bedell said. “Independence only has three high schools. Blue Springs, they may have about 1,000 students less than we have – they have two comprehensive high schools.”

Parent Kissha Hood has been through this process before when Milton Moore Elementary, her son’s school closed in 2011.

He switched to a charter school for awhile before coming back to KCPS. Now, two of her sons have graduated from the district. She has one more to get across the stage.

“We just have to do what we have to do to make sure there that we are not just educating, them but saving money,” Hood said. “Because there are a couple schools that need finances, but if we consolidate the kids, then we can maybe solve that problem at the same time.”

Bedell said nothing has been decided yet, including which schools could close.

He said this must be community driven and believes changes will improve school experience, sports and fine arts programs.

“If we have full-blown community engagement in this process, we believe that we can then bring something to this board of directors that everybody would be happy with, for the most part, because we can’t make everybody happy, but the goal is to put our kids in the best position to thrive,” Bedell said.

The board is expected to make a decision on recommendations this February.

Bedell said that could change based on the amount of public input, and it will be a phase-in process over the next 10 years.

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 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Latest

More News

Digital First

More digital first