Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS)

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

After 18 months of study Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) released its master plan Wednesday night in a long and contentious board meeting.

The plan covers which buildings will be closed, an overhaul of the transportation system, a plan for year-round class for low-performing elementary schools and the rejuvenation of high school extracurricular activities with an emphasis on sports.

The district says about 2,000 children, 15 percent of the district, would feel the change of school closing and the resulting boundary changes.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Besides the biggest celebration ever in Kansas City history, there also was an election on Tuesday.

Voters were deciding a couple of open Missouri statehouse seats, capital improvement taxes in Independence and Oak Grove, and a school board seat in Kansas City Public Schools.

At lunch time, a polling place in Brookside was completely empty, except for the poll workers. Some voters came in early, every single one with a Royals shirt on.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) is getting ready to release its master plan, and it will almost certainly call for closing some schools and possibly cutting jobs.

In a news release, the district says the goal of the master plan is to ensure that limited resources are being used as effectively as possible.

What that means is that there is a very good chance the some buildings will be closed, boundaries will be moved and that some jobs will be lost. Attrition is more likely than layoffs.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Updated 9:05 a.m. Monday:

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) representatives say school districts were given ample time to prepare for online science testing that caused big drops in annual performance points for the Hickman Mills School District.

Sarah Potter with DESE's communications department says the district had years to get students ready for the switch.

"Districts were notified in 2010 that all state assessments would go online by 2015," Potter said. "That gave districts time to direct budgets toward technology and also prepare students with 21st century computing skills. At the end of the day, it's up to districts to help students prepare for any state test."

Crossroads Academy

One of the more successful charter schools in Kansas City says it plans to open a second campus in time for the next school year.

Crossroads Academy is on Central Street just around the corner from the main branch of the Kansas City Public Library.

It opened in 2012, has doubled in size since that time and now educates about 350 students.

Executive Director Dean Johnson says the school will look for a building to buy downtown that will eventually serve about 400 students in  kindergarten through eighth grades.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

In a few weeks, Kansas City Public Schools will have a brand new and unusual educational partner.

The district expects to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Mexican Consulate in Kansas City to provide an array of services to Mexican students and their families in the district. 

About 25 percent of the district’s students are Spanish speakers and most of them have Mexican roots.

"We have children here who have come to this country at no choice of their own. This was a parent choice," says Luis Cordoba who runs the district’s Office of Student Interventions.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan stopped at Kansas City’s Woodland Early Learning Community Monday morning to advocate for high-quality preschool for low-income families.

“We have to make sure our babies are entering kindergarten ready to be successful,” Duncan said. “In education, we spend lots of time playing catch-up, and frankly we don’t often play catch-up well.”

Duncan says the average child from a disadvantaged neighborhood starts school at least a year behind. In Missouri, 80 percent of 4-year-olds don’t have access to a high quality early education program.

How important is it for kids to have teachers who look like them, or share their culture? And if they don't, can teachers be taught to teach across culture? 

Sam Zeff / KCUR

In a heated two-hour debate, the Kansas City Public Schools Board of Education voted Wednesday night to get into the charter school business.

The vote was the next step in the process for a partnership between KCPS and the Urban Neighborhood Initiative (UNI). 

Sam Zeff / KCUR

The Kansas City Public Schools board wants to get into the charter school business.

The board of education is slated to vote to move that process forward Wednesday night.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

School districts across Missouri found out Monday how they did on last year's standardized tests.

For Kansas City Public Schools and the Hickman Mills districts, both provisionally accredited by the state, the news was mixed.

Missouri changed its test so it's impossible to accurately compare scores year-to-year. However, both districts scored below 50 percent proficient or advanced in all four subjects tested —English, math, science and social studies.

Brad Wilson / Flickr-CC

When Missouri releases its standardized test scores, it’s always a tense week for some school districts.

But this year two area districts are both tense and confused.

The confusion for Kansas City Public Schools and the Hickman Mills School District comes because the state changed its standardized tests.

Both districts are provisionally accredited and hoping for full accreditation following this year’s results which will be publicly released Tuesday.

However, the state says because of the change, a year-to-year comparison would be almost useless.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Several dozen Lincoln College Preparatory Academy alumni met with a small group of current students Saturday to celebrate the historic school's 150th anniversary.

The alumni met the students at the Centennial United Methodist Church in Kansas City's 18th and Vine District to show their support and talk about how the school influenced their lives.  

Courtesy photo / KCPS

Kansas City Public Schools has reached inside the district for an interim superintendent to fill the shoes of outgoing Stephen Green.

The school board Wednesday night tapped Chief Financial Officer Al Tunis as interim head of the 15,000-student district.

Green is set to leave the district in a few weeks to go to Georgia. Green spoke with KCUR's Steve Kraske last week about his departure on Up To Date.

An update on plans to repurpose about 30 vacated schools in Kansas City. Plus, the challenges, joys, and enduring impact of finding new uses for buildings that have outlived their intended functions. The transformation of gas stations, old theaters, churches and post offices.

Esther Honig / KCUR

It was a tearful, dramatic day five years ago, when the school board of Kansas City Public Schools decided to close 21 buildings in order to adjust to a shrinking student population. That was in addition to nine previously closed schools, leaving the district with 30 surplus buildings.  

Kansas City Public Schools

Stephen Green became interim superintendent of the Kansas City Public School District in September 2011, then superintendent in April 2012.

Nearly four years later, his time in Kansas City has ended. Green recently announced that he is leaving the district to be closer to his children and grandchildren in the Atlanta area. He will lead the Dekalb School District starting this year.

Green has led the district through the loss of accreditation and the threat of a state takeover. He has brought stability back to the district with his focus on curriculum, instruction and student achievement.

Green spoke with Up To Date host Steve Kraske about the struggles the district faced under his tenure, how it has rebuilt, and how it will successfully transition and regain accreditation.

Boston Public Library/Flickr -- CC

Recently, the superintendents of the Kansas City Public Schools and the Blue Valley School District announced that they're leaving their posts. What does that mean to their school districts? We explore the role of the school superintendent.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Ask WABE education reporter Martha Dalton about the school district she covers, and you might think she’s talking about Kansas City.

“In 2012, they were put on probation by their accrediting agency. They had a lot of problems with their board, their board was having a lot of governance issues, their accreditors stepped in and said, ‘This has got to change,’” says Dalton.

If what Dalton's saying sounds familiar, it's because Kansas City Public Schools also lost accreditation in 2012.

Kansas City Public Schools

Updated, 7:20 p.m.:

It's official: Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent R. Stephen Green is leaving the district to take another position in Georgia. 

Green has been a stabilizing influence in the district in the years since it lost state accreditation in 2012. But he says he's not worried his departure will stall efforts to regain full accreditation.


Lincoln Preparatory High School started the year with a big honor and now it's ending the school year with another.

The premier magnet school in the Kansas City Public Schools was named the best high school in Missouri by U.S. News & World Report.

Missouri Valley Special Collections / Kansas City Public Library

Between the world wars, as new subdivisions filled out the map of Kansas City, educators built schools to keep up with the growing and moving population. Two new high schools – Southwest and Southeast – would anchor what was then the southern end of Kansas City. In the minds of students, each would create its own version of the mythical Camelot.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

The Kansas City school district may be getting into the charter school business.

The district says it received the OK from the state board of education on Tuesday to become a charter school sponsor.

Kansas City Superintendent Steve Green says if the charter schools are going to continue to play a bigger role in education, the district should be part of that discussion.

"This gets us to the table and allows us to be an active and equal participant in the conversation about charter schools in our community," Green said in a statement.

According to a study done by the University of California-Los Angeles’ Civil Rights Project, Missouri Public Schools rank #1 for the highest suspension of black elementary school students. Missouri’s gap between suspension rates of black and white elementary students also is the nation’s largest. 
  One study found that students suspended or expelled for a discretionary violation are nearly three times more likely to be in contact with the juvenile justice system the following year.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

It’s time to rethink summer.

At least that’s what educators are now telling parents and students. And academics, it turns out, is just one part of the new plan.

Here’s what’s true about summer, especially in the Kansas City, Mo., public schools: Students slip academically, they eat awful food and they often get in trouble.

But there’s a solution, says Kansas City Superintendent Steve Green. Just keep kids in school.

The Civil Rights Project / UCLA

Missouri suspends black elementary school students at a higher rate than any other state in the nation, according to a new report out Monday from the Civil Right Project at the UCLA.

The Kansas City, Mo., public school district is one of four Missouri districts singled out.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Last week a group of parents in Midtown Kansas City realized a dream: they raised enough money to get two new charter schools off the ground.

There was a time when such an announcement would be met with suspicion and perhaps even hostility from the Kansas City Public Schools.

Superintendent Steve Green says the district saw itself as a target.

"We isolated ourselves. It’s sometimes a typical response when you’re wounded or in some way hurting you isolate yourself. But it’s probably the last thing you should do," he says.

Courtesy photo / Kansas City Public Schools

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Monday against Kansas City Public Schools over a November protest at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy. 

File photo / KCUR

As we explore state line in the Kansas City area as a uniter and divider in our Beyond Our Borders series, this issue continues to crop up — schools.

Parents are very passionate about how and why they've chosen certain schools in the metropolitan area for their children. 

With charter schools, private schools, public schools and application-based specialized schools on both sides of the state line in the region, we're curious about how you reached your decision.

Cody Newill / KCUR

New figures from the U.S. Department of Education show that homelessness among American students has sky-rocketed by 58 percent in the past five years.

While the problem is at its worst in urban school districts the government data reveals that, for the first time, rural and suburban school districts are dealing with homelessness on a large scale. 

There are now an estimated 1.3 million homeless students in this country.