Plan to close 2 KCPS elementary schools approved by board
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - With a vote of 4-to-2, the Kansas City Public Schools Board of Directors approved a plan to close two elementary schools in the fall of 2023.
The vote on the school closures was part of a larger proposal that involved a new mission statement and set of priorities called Blueprint 2030.
The tone at Wednesday night’s meeting was a stark shift from what interim superintendent Dr. Jennifer Collier and her staff encountered at 11 listening sessions in the fall and at a board meeting in December.
Back then, the proposal was to close eight elementary schools and two high schools. Two weeks ago, the district revised its proposal based on that community its feedback. The proposal presented to the board on Wednesday involved closing just two schools: Troost Elementary and Longfellow Elementary.
One person spoke during public comment, urging the board not to approve any school closures. The remainder urged the board to pass the revised plan.
Four commenters in a row praised Collier. The timing -- just a month before the board is expected to vote on a permanent superintendent -- made the gushing seem almost like a campaign endorsement.
“I would like to applaud you on the way you handled the feedback and navigated a process that has got us to a place of calm tonight,” said Alissia Canady, a former city council member who graduated from Northeast High School, a KCPS school that was on the chopping block during the first proposal.
“Dr. Collier has stood in the line of fire through a very difficult situation and never gotten defensive,” said Gregg Lombardi, who directs the Lykins Neighborhood Association.
Whittier Elementary is in his neighborhood and was among those initially slated to close, but it has since been removed from the list.
“She has demonstrated a willingness to listen to and consider stakeholder feedback in her recommendations and has challenged stakeholders to continue showing up to identify and hold the district accountable,” said Jamekia Kendrix, who is running for a seat on the school board.
She taught in Kansas City public schools. One of her children graduated from Central High School, whose place on the initial closure list prompted a firestorm from alumni. It was also spared in the second draft.
The school closing proposals were part of a larger plan to improve academic performance and student experience by offering more academic courses and more extracurricular options. The district cited declining enrollment, geographic enrollment trends, poor academic performance and building maintenance costs in its initial evaluation of which schools to close.
Board members Kandace Buckner and Nate Hogan voted no.
“I cannot with clear conscience vote to close a school that is doing exactly what we want them to do,” Buckner said.
The district sent a letter to parents after the vote Wednesday night, which reads as follows:
Blueprint 2030: Voting Results and Next Steps
Dear KCPS families,
Tonight, the KCPS Board of Directors voted on the revised Blueprint 2030 recommendations brought during the Jan. 11 Board meeting. The recommendation to close Troost Elementary School and Longfellow Elementary School was based on feedback received from our students, staff, families and community this fall and will help move us toward our goal of enhancing the student experience in KCPS.
The vote was as follows:
- Troost Elementary: YES
- Longfellow Elementary: YES
What Happens Next?
The KCPS Transition Teams will work closely with students, families and staff at impacted schools to help them feel welcome at their new schools. We will host school tours and enrollment days/nights to make this process easier for our students and families.
We understand that a decision to close a school is not easy and helping students and families transition to their new school home must be done quickly and with integrity. The transition planning will include:
- Efforts to ensure the transfer of students is a positive experience and ensures retention of students at KCPS
- Parent/guardian evaluation of school choice options that are best for their child
- Reallocation of resources and staff that fully support student learning and academic programs
Additionally, we will continue to collaborate with the community through our Moving Forward Together Education and Engagement series in the next few months.
Thank you for your continued support of KCPS where the future is bright!
Dr. Jennifer Collier
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