Fri May 2, 2008
Independence Superintendent Weighs in on Schools Dispute
By Steve Bell
Kansas City, MO – Another arbitration session was postponed Friday in the dispute over the eight school buildings in the area that voted to leave the Kansas City school district and join the one in Independence.
The Kansas City district's latest asking price is about $90 million. But Superintendent Jim Hinson says his Independence district should owe nothing for six of the buildings.
"Our position with Kansas City is: You didn't pay for the buildings," says Hinson. "They were given to you by the patrons, and now the same patrons have gone to the polls to say, we want them transferred.' Why should we pay for something that was given to you, and in some cases with money that went along with them."
According to Hinson, the Independence board is willing to negotiate on the other two properties - Van Horn High School and Nowlin Middle School.
Hinson has offered more information about his contingency plans for students in the schools that left the Kansas City district for Independence. If a satisfactory deal can't be worked out, Hinson says, it doesn't mean sending the kids to a different part of town.
"They're going to stay in the same neighborhoods in which they live now," says Hinson. "The facilities we're talking about are in the same neighborhoods where the school buildings are located."
Specifically, Hinson says several parochial schools that will be closed and several churches have offered their facilities and his district could occupy and remodel the vacant Independence Regional Hospital.