KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Today is Kansas City Mayor Sly James' last day on the job. He says the worst day during his eight-year tenure was the day voters turned down his pre-K plan during the spring.
School leaders at a new preschool set to open next month at 39th Street and Troost Avenue are among those disappointed by the voting down of James' pre-K plan in April.
Proponents had touted the plan's expansion of pre-K services to kids and parents in Kansas City who would need it. But opponents from gathered on both sides of the mayor's push---one side opposing some of the proposed money going to charter schools, with other opponents saying the increased tax cost was just too steep.
The new preschool on Troost will be run by United Inner City Services. They have run St. Mark's Center on 12th Street for more than 50 years. They would have had access to some of the money had the pre-K tax passed.
But those administrators say they're not being selfish, pointing to studies that show only one in three four-year-olds have access to quality early childhood education. There is a wide swath of children in Kansas City who would've been helped by the plan, no matter the political details, James and proponents have said.
"If we're not taking care of our kids now, we're essentially saying we don't care about our future," the mayor said. "Because they're going to be the ones running the show."
When UICS's new preschool opens, they will be educating about 220 children, with a waiting list of about 200 kids. School leaders said the debate about the pre-K vote at least brought attention to the need for improvement.
"More people in the city and the metro are becoming aware of the importance of early childhood education and unfortunately the lack thereof in the city too," said Gene Willis, chief engagement officer for United Inner City Services.