KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) --- On April 2, voters in Kansas City will decide whether to pass a new sales tax to fund pre-school across the city.
Kansas City Mayor Sly James is proposing a 3/8 cent sales tax to generate money that would go to expanding pre-schools, building new ones and subsidizing the cost of tuition for qualifying families.
All 14 school districts in the city limits have come out against that plan as well as many big community organizations. On Monday, they’ll hold a meeting to voice their concerns. It all has to do with the funding.
They’re opposed the fact that the tuition grants would work like a voucher system where families could use funds to pay for private programs.
They also don’t like that for the first few years, a majority of the millions of dollars raised would go to administrative costs and infrastructure.
And perhaps the biggest point, they don’t like that the school boards will not control the money. The pre-k program would be overseen by an advisory board appointed by the mayor’s office.
"Kansas City Public Schools and all the other districts really should have the opportunity to decide what is the best way for them to increase the number of seats in their districts versus turning that over to a convoluted government system that is controlled by the mayor, the city manager and five people appointed by the mayor," said Gwendolyn Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City.
"Our plan would support KCPS. They’re going to lose funding and 200 seats because they’re not going to have funding between now and 2019-2020. Our plan would put money in their pockets. But because they don’t get to decide how the money gets spent, they don’t want to do it," James said.
The mayor says he doesn’t care about the budgets and agendas of the school districts. He just wants more children to have access to early childhood education.
Monday's public meeting is at 11 a.m. at Gracemor Elementary in Kansas City.
Eleven of the 14 superintendents who are against the pre-K plan will be in attendance, including KCPS.