BACK TO SCHOOL: Catch up with KCPS superintendent Dr. Jennifer Collier

Published: Aug. 21, 2023 at 4:20 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 21, 2023 at 4:27 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Around the Kansas City Metro, kids are returning to the classroom. For many parents, the new school year always comes with questions and concerns.

KCTV5′s Sharon Chen checked in with the school superintendent of Kansas City Public Schools to find out what parents need to know.

Sharon: Dr. Collier, here we are: First day of school on Monday — can you believe it?”

Dr. Collier: I can’t believe it but, I’m super excited about it. This year our theme is sparking joy, and it’s a priority of ours this year, to make sure there’s joy across all our school system.”

Sharon: “Full of joy, but for parents one of the big concerns is always security – what are you doing differently this year to keep the kids safe?”

Dr. Collier: “So we’ve done some work in our buildings to make sure there’s an extra layer of security between the barrier and the front door where people enter into the main area of the building. We’re also looking at adding several security officers for elementary schools to be present there as well. We added X-ray machines to secondary school as another layer of support.”

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Sharon: “One of the challenges that’s facing districts across the United States is staffing, from teachers to paraprofessionals and even bus drivers. What are you guys doing here at KCPS and what are you doing to address that?”

Dr. Collier: “Like many other districts we are seeing the staffing challenges historically it has really been focused on teachers, but I think since the pandemic we’re noticing there are other positions as well. Our HR and recruitment teams have been done an excellent job of going out and finding the best talent for many of the roles here at KCPS, however, we are still dealing with a few vacancies across our system and so we’re actively working to get those filled. Even as late as yesterday we had prospects, so we’re very hopeful of being a place where we’re well-staffed at being able to serve our students well this year.

Sharon: Speaking of serving students well, while most districts are cutting back in extracurricular programming, KCPS is adding.

Dr. Collier: “We’re really excited about our programming this year, we’re also rolling out instrumental music, I’m a lover of the arts I’m passionate about the arts and I believe every child should have the opportunity to experience the arts. This year we’re rolling out instrumental music to 12 of our elementary schools, our students will have the option of enrolling in band or orchestra. We’re also looking for some dance expansion as well across our district, in a couple of our middle schools and high schools we’ll be adding some dance classes. I want all our children to have the same opportunity so when they go to college, they’ll have the same scholarship opportunity available to them and if they want to engage in the arts community in the city – they can do that. So I think it’s our job as educators that we’re equipping our students with all the tools they need to be successful in whatever area it is they’re interested in.

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