Sylvia Maria Gross

Reporter, Producer & Co-Host of KC Currents

Sylvia Maria Gross co-hosts and produces KC Currents, an award-winning weekly news magazine that covers news and culture in Kansas City’s diverse communities. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, The World and Studio 360. Gross grew up in New York City, Brazil and the suburbs of Washington, DC. She studied English at Yale University, and then spent a year researching arts education in Brazil on a Fulbright grant. When she returned from Brazil, she taught middle school math and English while completing a master's degree in journalism at Columbia University in New York City. She reported in New York about education and culture before moving to Kansas City in 2004.

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KC Currents
1:18 pm
Mon May 3, 2010

KCMO Council Considers Nurturing Urban Agriculture

Brooke Salvaggio at Bad Seed, the urban farm she started at Bannister Road and State Line Road. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, Mo. – Locally-grown produce is becoming increasingly popular around the country, but in Kansas City, not everyone seems to want food grown as locally as next door. The city council is considering an ordinance to foster urban agriculture.

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KCMO Schools
12:25 am
Wed April 7, 2010

Superintendent's Supporters Dominate KCMSD Elections

Kansas City, Mo. – A slate of candidates who support the school closure plan dominated yesterday's election for Kansas City Missouri's school board. The candidates ran on a slate put together by a new organization called Kansas Citians United for Educational Achievement.

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KC Currents
1:25 pm
Sun April 4, 2010

Eight Candidates Vie for Three KCMO School Board Seats

Campaign workers send last-minute postcards to school district residents, urging them to vote. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, Mo. – When the Kansas City Missouri school board made the dramatic decision last month to close almost half of the district's schools, it was a tight vote, five to four. So tomorrow's election to fill five seats is certain to change the board's dynamic at a critical time.

Many people are seeing the upcoming election as a kind of a referendum on the school closing plan. Two groups of candidates are lining up for and against, if not the plan, then the way it was proposed and approved.

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KC Currents
10:21 am
Tue March 16, 2010

Voices From The Meeting That Closed 26 KCMO Schools

Kansas City, Mo. – Dramatic change came to the Kansas City, Missouri school district this week. After months of research and community meetings, the school board voted 5 to 4 to close 26 schools. It was a harrowing vote for all the school board members, and more than 40 years of Kansas City's history with its school district came up in the final public discussion.

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KCMO Schools
3:54 pm
Thu March 11, 2010

Board Narrowly Passes Historic KCMO School Closure Plan

School superintendent John Covington and Board President Marilyn Simmons. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, Mo. – Last night, the Kansas City Missouri school board narrowly approved the plan to close 26 schools, and district headquarters. More than 200 parents and community members turned out for an emotional meeting.

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KC Currents
12:18 pm
Mon March 8, 2010

Students Talk About Life In KCMO Classrooms

Jose Guadalupe Limas, Brenda Sanchez Chavira and Nidia Castillo at Alta Vista Charter School. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, Mo. – With the Kansas City Missouri school district considering closing half of its school buildings, and school board elections around the corner, many local public schools are at a crossroads.

As part of a special broadcast on the Future of Kansas City Schools, KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross asked students from a variety of district and charter schools to weigh in with their stories of life in the classroom.

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KCUR News
10:36 pm
Wed March 3, 2010

Final School Board Discussion On KCMO Closures

Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City Missouri school district officials presented a final school closing proposal to the board and the public at a packed meeting at school district headquarters last night. The superintendent's final plan would close 26 school buildings, merging most middle and high schools, and move early childhood centers into elementary schools.

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KCUR News
11:11 am
Mon February 22, 2010

Amid School Closures, KCMO School Board Draws New Candidates

Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City, Missouri's school board is facing the unenviable decision of having to close a significant number of the district's schools. But amid the downsizing, there's a surprising number of candidates running for the board in April's election. Ten candidates are vying for five seats in April's school board election. Two of the races, for the second and sixth sub-districts, have only one candidate each. But it's still a far cry from the past two elections, when none of the seats were contested.

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KCUR News
10:20 am
Fri February 19, 2010

Parents Rally Behind African Centered Schools

Superintendent John Covington and Public Relations Director Eileen Houston-Stewart hear from a middle school student. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, Mo. – Hundreds of people turned out last night to voice their opposition to the Kansas City Missouri school district's proposal to close about 30 schools. It was the third in a week-long series of forums to collect public opinion about the proposal.

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KCUR News
12:35 pm
Sun February 14, 2010

KCMO Superintendent Proposes Closing About 30 Schools

Chief Operating Officer Roosevelt Brown explains part of the \"right-sizing plan\" to the school board. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City Missouri School Superintendent John Covington has proposed shuttering about half of the district's schools, reducing staff by 700 positions, and moving headquarters out of 1211 McGee. A steep decline in enrollment has left school buildings half full, and the superintendent says that down-sizing will allow him to redeploy resources towards better instruction. He laid out the details in a plan presented to the school board Saturday.

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KCUR News
3:48 pm
Mon February 1, 2010

Kansas Sees Results Of Expanded Gaming Act

Jesse Urtiaga came up from Amarillo, Texas to check out the new casino in Dodge City. Photo by Bill Elder.

Dodge City, Kan. – Two years ago, Kansas lawmakers passed the Expanded Gaming Act, which would legalize gambling at four new casinos, all state-owned. Now that Kansas is facing a $ 400 million dollar budget deficit, it could use the casino revenue more than ever. But the only casino that's opened so far is in Dodge City.

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KCUR News
1:01 pm
Tue January 19, 2010

Local Haitians Pray, Respond To Earthquake

Cousins Victoria Blaise and Ginette Pittman are still waiting to hear from some family members in Haiti. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, Mo. – Food, medical supplies and rescue crews continue to make their way towards Haiti, in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake. And Kansas City is home to several thousand people from Haiti.

This weekend, some gathered at church services to seek comfort in the face of tragedy, and look to each other, and God, for support.

KCUR's Susan B. Wilson and Sylvia Maria Gross were at the First Haitian Baptist Church on the East side this morning (Sunday, January 17, 2010) to hear from people there.

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KCUR News
11:56 am
Tue January 19, 2010

Young People Predict Future Of Civil Rights Movements

Shanee Howard of Schlagle High School in Kansas City, KS. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

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KCUR News
5:41 pm
Mon January 11, 2010

Federal Funding For Districts To Transform Low-Performing Schools

Kansas City, Mo. – A new pot of federal money will soon be available to school districts that take steps to dramatically transform low-performing schools. Federal officials met with area school districts and community members yesterday to explain the new program.

Missouri districts with schools ranking in the bottom 5% in test scores and graduation rates will be eligible to apply for these funds in the next month. But districts must agree to turn around the low-performing schools in three years by choosing one of several models.

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KCUR News
11:03 am
Sun January 10, 2010

Winter Storm's Reach Is Wide

Greater Kansas City – We've had an extended period of bad weather in the Kansas City area, with historic amounts of snow, record low temperatures, and school cancellations - almost everyone's life has been disrupted.

Some are getting a little cabin fever -- like Joyce Lucas, a Kansas City woman who (as of January 6th) had only left her house once since Christmas.

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KCUR News
6:50 pm
Thu January 7, 2010

"Stuck in the House by the Snow"

70-year-old Joyce Lucas, inside her house in the Blue Hills neighborhood of Kansas City. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – Frigid weather, piling snow and school cancellations are keeping many people at home these days. And some might be getting a little cabin fever. KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross just visited with Joyce Lucas, a Kansas City woman who has only left her house once since Christmas.

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KCUR News
3:33 pm
Mon December 14, 2009

Mother Turns Personal Tragedy Into Suicide Awareness

Kansas City, MO – The holidays can be a difficult time for Bonnie Swade. Eight years ago this month, her son took his own life. Since then, Swade has founded the Suicide Awareness Survivor Support group of Missouri and Kansas, or SASS Mo-Kan. Swade, who's a retired high school counselor, also teaches suicide awareness sessions in classrooms throughout the area.

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KCUR News
9:49 am
Thu December 10, 2009

KCMO School District Holds Public Forums About School Closings

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City Missouri school district holds the first of a series of public forums tonight for input on future school closures and layoffs. The district would have to close as many as half of its buildings, and lose about one third of its employees to be the same size as other districts with similar enrollment.

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KCUR News
3:10 pm
Mon December 7, 2009

Resignation Prompts Questions about Effective Coaching Methods

Kansas City, MO – KU's champion football coach Mark Mangino stepped down this week, in the wake of a very public investigation as to whether he abused and humiliated his players.

Mangino had been credited with rebuilding the team over the last eight years, leading them to their best season ever in 2007. They went 12-1, won the Orange Bowl, and Mangino was national coach of the year. But some players say he verbally and emotionally abused them, while others say his strict discipline made them into better players and men.

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KCUR News
10:22 pm
Mon November 16, 2009

New Community Board Will Oversee Dress Codes At P&L

Cordish representative Zed Smith and Power & Light District director Kevin Battle announce plans for new board, alongside many of the entertainment district's current bouncers. Photo by Tim Bridgham / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – Officials at the downtown Power and Light district announced today that they will create a new board to oversee the implementation of its controversial dress codes. The board will contract an independent company to hire and train bouncers for the KC Live block.

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KCUR News
12:19 pm
Mon November 16, 2009

Controversy Continues Over Power & Light Dress Code

Kansas City, MO – Ever since the entertainment district opened in the spring of last year, there's been complaints that the dress code in the central KC Live Block has been used to discriminate against African Americans and Latinos. The city passed an ordinance earlier this year restricting what could be on a dress code. It was an attempt to make sure dress codes are culturally neutral.

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KCUR News
10:55 am
Mon November 9, 2009

Beyond Enchiladas: Mexican Restaurant Owners Meet In KC

Dallas chef Felipe Gaytan demonstrates a recipe for crab and spinach enchiladas with mango black bean salsa. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – Last week, chefs and owners of Mexican restaurants from around the continent met in Kansas City. It was the first annual conference of a new national organization, which aims to provide culinary advice and business tips to encourage the development of more authentic Mexican restaurants.

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KCUR News
5:16 pm
Thu November 5, 2009

Family Plans To Sue Power & Light District

Click to enlarge. The Green family on the night they say they were denied entrance to Power and Light. Photo courtesy of the family.

Kansas City, MO – Seven members of a Kansas City family announced plans to file a racial discrimination suit against the downtown Power & Light District. The African American family says they were refused entry to one of the district's clubs in August, even though they were complying with the dress code.

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KCUR News
11:04 pm
Tue November 3, 2009

Wide Majority Approves Renewal Of COMBAT Anti-Drug Tax

Former Councilman and Drug Commission member Alvin Brooks and Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders celebrate the tax's renewal at the Westport Flea Market. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – Jackson County voters approved the renewal of the Community-Backed Anti-Drug Tax by a wide margin yesterday. The COMBAT sales tax raises about $20 million a year to fund drug enforcement and treatment programs.

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KCUR News
10:05 am
Fri October 30, 2009

COMBAT Anti-Drug Tax Up For Renewal Tuesday

Street Crimes Unit Sergeant Chip Huth outside a raid location. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – It's been 20 years since Jackson County residents first passed the Community Based Anti-Drug Tax to fund drug enforcement, treatment and prevention. The sales tax was an unusual response to the crack epidemic and high homicide rate of the late 1980s. Since that time, drug use and violent crime have decreased and come back up again, leaving some voters wondering if Combat has made a difference. The quarter-cent sales tax is up for a renewal in a special election on Tuesday.

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KCUR News
12:22 pm
Mon October 26, 2009

The Orphan Trains: Placing Out In America

The Orphan Train in Michigan.

Kansas City, MO – At the turn of the 19th century, some 200,000 children were shipped from the East Coast to points west. They were poor, often children of immigrants who were either orphans, or their parents just couldn't take care of them. Probably about 5000 came to Missouri and Kansas each. In the 1990s, historian Marilyn Irvin Holt caught up with some of them, and wrote the story of their migration in her book The Orphan Trains: Placing Out in America.

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KCUR News
3:31 am
Thu October 22, 2009

Mayor, Police Chief Endorse COMBAT Anti-Drug Tax

Chief Jim Corwin and Mayor Mark Funkhouser in a press conference at the Jackson County Courthouse. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser and police chief Jim Corwin both endorsed the passage of Jackson County's anti-drug sales tax today. The 20-year-old tax is up for renewal in an election November 3, 2009.

Jackson County's quarter-cent anti-drug tax, known as COMBAT, collects about $20 million a year to fund drug-related law enforcement and prevention programs If approved this year, the tax would also fund efforts to fight violent crime. Mayor Mark Funkhouser says that since 1989 when the tax was enacted, Combat has funded many important community programs .

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KCUR News
2:56 pm
Mon October 12, 2009

Local Voices On Being Latino

Kansas City, MO – This week, KC Currents' Sylvia Maria Gross was part of a panel at the Kansas City Public Library called "Being Latino in America: Our Past and Our Future." For that conversation, she compiled a montage of voices from the many people around Kansas City she's interviewed for KC Currents over the years, and how they've spoke to this idea of "being Latino."

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KCUR News
8:46 am
Mon October 12, 2009

New Director Of The Heart Of America Indian Center

Kansas City, MO – The Heart of America Indian Center in Kansas City was founded in 1971, making it one of the oldest urban Indian centers in the country. It was founded at a time that many Native Americans were moving off reservations and into cities. The center wanted to provide them with social, cultural and health services. Cheyanne Ingram took over as executive director of the center in August, and is hoping to expand its operations.

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Headlines
2:14 pm
Thu October 1, 2009

Stimulus Funds Raise Ethics Questions in Wyandotte County

Ann Murguia in front of one of ANDA's new houses in Argentine.
Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – Wyandotte County is slated to receive more than $3 million in federal stimulus funding to support the redevelopment of abandoned or foreclosed homes. The Argentine Neighborhood Development Association hopes to use $800,000 of that amount to improve housing in its area. But the head of that organization is also a Unified Government Commissioner and some other commissioners are concerned that it might be a conflict of interest.

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