KCPS pleads case for accreditation to board of education - KCTV5 News

KCPS pleads case for accreditation to board of education

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Armed with improved test scores, Kansas City Public Schools officials are fighting for the district's accreditation in Jefferson City, MO, Tuesday.

Superintendent Dr. Stephen Green pleaded his case to the State Board of Education as he detailed the progress of students in the Kansas City, MO, School District. The hope is to regain accreditation.

The consequences of not doing so could be financially devastating to the district.

The state Supreme Court is considering a transfer policy for its students who want out of the unaccredited district.

Green said the departure of students could also mean the loss of $150 million, leaving the district with very little resources to serve its remaining students.

"It would cripple us. It would cripple the progress that we have been making over the past two years financially. That financial stability that we see there would be in question. The trajectory of upper climb would be a serious threat to us," Green said.

While the latest date shows improvement, some board members expressed concerns about sustainability.

"It concerns me that you haven't yet demonstrated the ability to carry that kind of increase on a second and a third-year basis, you haven't had the time to do that," said Peter Herschend, the board president.

While Herschend acknowledged the improvements, he called some of them "low hanging fruit."

"You go for the low hanging fruit. That's not to disparage the work, it's all important, but the easy results in terms of quantifiable increase are the first ones to show up," he said.

Green admitted there's much room to grow.

"Thirty percent of our students are proficient or above, that means 70 [percent] are not. We understand that. We know that the long tale to that is successive progress," Green said.

KSPS reached 60 of the 50 points needed to regain accreditation, but Commissioner of Education Chris Nicastro said she wants to see a few years of improvement before restoring the district's status.

The difference between unaccredited and provisionally accredited can be significant for a school system. Missouri law lets students transfer from unaccredited districts to accredited school systems, and unaccredited districts can also face a state intervention.

The board called the decision whether to grant provisional accreditation a "complicated one," especially with the looming student transfers that could happen as early as next year.

The State Board of Education took no immediate action on Kansas City's request. Herschend said the decision is not easy and could take at least a month or two to decide.

The Missouri Supreme Court is also considering how districts will pay for potential transfers. Neighboring districts say they simply don't have the space or the money to handle the anticipated influx of kids.

Gayden Carruth, the executive director of Cooperating School Districts of Greater Kansas City, said KSPS schools have proven they can right the wrong. She said she hopes the board will recognize that and avoid a student transfer situation that could become a huge problem for at least six neighboring districts.

"They will follow the law, but it is going in a way that could end up being a financial burden on surrounding districts as well," Carruth said.

Kansas City became unaccredited in 2012.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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