Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS)

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

In 2010, Kansas City Public Schools closed nearly 30 schools, mostly because of declining enrollment and a budget deficit. Some of these buildings are still in limbo, and others have been sold, leased, or mothballed for future use.

At the former Westport Middle School at 200 E. 39th Street, classrooms, where students used to work on projects, are now co-working spaces for entrepreneurs. 

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Maybe you’ve noticed the yard signs featuring a pixelated, rainbow “U” popping up in the city’s southwest quadrant.

Parents who want to see the former Southwest Early College Campus reopened as a project-based learning high school met Wednesday at Bier Station in the Waldo neighborhood.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Five minutes before the town hall is supposed to end, a girl in a superhero shirt with perfect posture steps up to the microphone. She tells Kansas City Public Schools Supt. Mark Bedell the only reason she’s still in school is ROTC.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Supt. Mark Bedell says community feedback should shape Kansas City Public Schools’ strategic plan.

“We need your voice. We need your assistance. And we need you to have buy-in to this plan,” says Bedell, who is in his first year with the district.

KCPS already has a master plan. Approved last year, it changed some boundaries and targeted student achievement at underperforming schools.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

It’s crunch time for Missouri school districts trying to reach state-mandated attendance goals.

The phone rings constantly in the attendance office at King Elementary, one of the Kansas City Public Schools where attendance is below the district average.

An out-of-breath Donetta Stuart describes the morning she’s had – and it’s only 9 o’clock. 

“Normally when we miss the bus stop, I take her to the next bus stop, but her daddy didn’t do that. It was crazy. We had a crazy day,” she says.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

A major data breach is being investigated in the Independence School District.

The school district employees were alerted to the scam in an email sent last Thursday.

In it, the business office says “the names, social security numbers, addresses and earnings” of every employee was stolen in a phishing scam, where the crooks use fake emails or websites to steal personal information.

The information was used to file fraudulent income tax returns, according to the email.

A fraud investigation is underway by the FBI and the Independence Police Department.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Public Schools and the Mexican Consulate have partnered to offer educational opportunities to Latinos in the district.

The partnership comes at a time when many are worried about raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The partnership is housed at East High School, where the ribbon was cut Thursday.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Sprint employees were at Central Academy of Excellence Wednesday to pass out free wireless hotspots to low-income high school students who don’t have internet access at home.

Freshman Nia Abson was one of the first students to receive a device with a data plan.

“Like, I couldn’t get my work done, and then I’d be failing classes,” Abson says. “I’d just be like, ‘Mom, I need internet.’”

Mark Bedell says he heard from countless Kansas City Public Schools students about the lack of connectivity when he visited schools during his first 100 days as superintendent.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The relationship between schools and the communities to which they belong is crucial.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

When Kansas City Public Schools hired Mark Bedell to be the district’s next superintendent, one of the board members sent him a book to read, “Complex Justice,” about the Missouri v. Jenkins desegregation case.

In the 1980s, the courts ordered KCPS to pay teachers more and build state-of-the-art schools – at the time, what people thought it would take to bring white, suburban families back to the district.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Friday morning at 11 a.m., Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

But from the moment he won the election, there has been trepidation among immigrants, both those in the country legally and illegally. That fear is a big problem in the Kansas City Public Schools.

It can be hard enough teaching in the Kansas City school district. Many students live in poverty, lots of the schools are crumbling, and there are a lack of extracurricular activities.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

As Kansas City Public Schools battle to improve academics, one high school is getting multi-million dollar help from the state.              

East High School just got word that it received what’s called a School Improvement Grant (SIG).

It’s federal money that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) distributes to very low performing schools.

East principal Jeff Spaletta, who’s in his first year in the district, says the $4 million grant will be used, among other things, to add classes.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Public Schools Supt. Mark Bedell says he’s done observing – it’s time to act.

Last month, Bedell outlined his plan to move KCPS forward in a 22-page report that recapped his experiences visiting schools during his first 100 days as superintendent.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com/

Mark Bedell faces a big challenge; leading Kansas City Public Schools back to full accreditation. Today, the superintendent talks about his first sixth months on the job, and his plans to improve grades and raise graduation rates. Then, jazz icon Ramsey Lewis explains how he's using his piano to commemorate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Gustavo Castillo / Wikimedia Commons

A change in state statute is unlikely to make more schoolyard fights felonies.

When Missouri lawmakers made third degree assault a Class E felony, up from a misdemeanor, two school districts in the St. Louis area issued dire warnings that the criminal code revisions could have a dramatic impact on school discipline.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Mark Bedell has been superintendent in the Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) for 100 days and he's making one thing clear to the Board of Education, his staff and parents: things are going to change.

Bedell issued his so-called 100 Day Plan to the Board Wednesday.

Bedell's plan calls for more transparency, more autonomy for building principals and more intensity around recruiting and retaining teachers.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Balloons were practically spilling out of the doors, as parents and children filed into the Central Library in downtown Kansas City for the first ever City School Fair this weekend. 

The library was buzzing throughout the day, with a steady crowd of visitors. Fifty schools were in attendance, spread out at booths on all three floors of the library. 

"It's kind of like a college fair," said library spokesperson Courtney Lewis.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The results are in, and for the first time in years, Kansas City Public received an accountability score from the state that qualifies it for full accreditation.

But it won’t be enough to convince the State Board the urban school district is back on track.

“We have been very clear that you need to show at least two years,” says Margie Vandeven, Missouri Commissioner of Education.

Still, KCPS Superintendent Mark Bedell sees cause for celebration.

Courtesy of Hollis Officer

Do you remember the man who took your tickets at the Tivoli for 17 years? With a recent photo display and theater dedication at the Tivoli, we reflect on the late Bob Smith, an international male model in his prime, who spent the end of his life in Kansas City.

But first, a check-in with the superintendent and a teacher in the Hickman Mills School District, as a part of KCUR's ongoing coverage of the district.

Guests:

woodleywonderworks — Flickr CC

Students who don't have internet access at home are at risk of falling further behind at school as more teachers assign homework that requires web access. 

That trend has been called the "homework gap," and Sprint wants to help close it.

On Tuesday, the Overland Park-based company announced a new initiative, the 1Million Project, which will put mobile devices and free wireless service into the hands of one million students across the country. 

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

Students in the Hickman Mills School District face a lot of challenges, including poverty and a provisionally accredited district, as well as a high rate of mobility: 75 percent of students typically change classrooms, schools or districts within the course of one year.

Gustavo Castillo / Wikimedia Commons

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Kansas City Public Schools after a school resource officer handcuffed a second grader.

The incident happened in 2014, says ACLU of Missouri Executive Director Jeffrey Mittman, after 7-year-old Kalyb Wiley Primm began to cry in class.

Mittman says Primm had been bullied.

“He didn’t want to go with the officer, who was being scary,” Mittman says. “Instead of calming the child, instead of reassuring him, instead of finding out what was wrong, the officer yelled at him, told him to stop crying and then handcuffed him.”

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Mayor Sly James is exploring a new program to empower parents of school-aged children.

The Parent Leadership Training Institute is a 20-week program that helps attendees track legislation, analyze data and become involved in public policy on behalf of their kids.

James says highly engaged parents help schools function better, but knowing how to participate isn't always obvious.

Nearly everyone agrees that parental involvement is critical to kids' success in school, but knowing how to participate isn't always obvious. Kansas City Mayor Sly James supports a program aimed at giving parents the tools they need to engage with schools, and affect positive change in their children's future.

Guests:

Paul Andrews / http://paulandrewsphotography.com/

For Mark Bedell, school was a safe haven.

“It gave me an opportunity to be a kid because I had to be an adult a lot sooner than most kids should have to be an adult,” he told guest host Brian Ellison on Central Standard.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com/

He was homeless in the ninth grade. And today, he's in charge of the Kansas City Public Schools. Meet the new superintendent.

Guest:

Anna Sturla / KCUR 89.3

The Kauffman Foundation and the Hall Family foundation will donate more than $1.5 million over two years to the Kansas City Neighborhood Academy, a new charter school serving East Kansas City.

The Kauffman Foundation is donating $1 million while the Hall Family Foundation is donating $600,000.

“This is a tremendous vote of confidence for our new school,” says Urban Neighborhood Initiative Executive Director Dianne Cleaver. UNI was created by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce in order to revitalize Kansas City neighborhoods.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Today is the first official day on the job for new Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bedell, and he certainly has his work cut out for him. 

Bedell is looking to help the district regain full accreditation, but he is also focusing on changing negative attitudes about the district. In these first few weeks, he says he "wants to come in and just restore hope and really give these kids the best opportunities to be successful." 

KIPP KC

KIPP KC has rented space in the old Metropolitan Community College Pioneer Campus building at 18th and Prospect Avenue in Kansas City for eight years. Now, the charter middle school has bought the entire 95,000-square foot property as it embarks on a larger expansion plan. 

The school offers grades 5-8 and will add classes in kindergarten through fourth grade next year. School officials anticipate adding these grades will boost enrollment by more than 100 students, to around 380 total.

It's a question you hear a lot, especially if you have young children and live on the Missouri side of the state line: Where are you sending your kids to school?

We explore the world of charter schools — they're getting so big in KC that even the district is opening one. Who chooses charter schools and why? Are charters bringing on a new era of thriving public education in KC or taking away from struggling district schools? Are they integrating urban neighborhoods or segregating communities in new way?

Guests:

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