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10 schools would close in Kansas City (Mo.) district in proposed reorganization

Oct. 13, 2022
Closing and consolidating under-enrolled campuses would enable the district to operate facilities more efficiently.

Ten schools in the Kansas City (Mo.) district could close under a proposal to overhaul the school system.

The Kansas City Star reports that the district’s long-term restructuring plan, Blueprint 2030, seeks to modernize classrooms and ensure that all students have access to the same academic and extracurricular programs. Consultants have recommended that two high schools and eight elementary schools be closed or converted for a different use. The targeted schools have been chosen based on enrollment trends, building condition, maintenance costs and location.

Closing and consolidating schools with low enrollment over the next several years would free up money to carry out those improvements.

Central High School could close as early as next fall under the proposal. The site could possibly be transformed into a professional learning center for the district. James, Longfellow and Troost elementary schools also could close as early as next fall. In 2024-25, the district could close King, Wheatley and Whittier elementary schools. In 2026-27, the district could close Northeast High School and Faxon and Melcher elementary schools.

After decades of enrollment decline, the Kansas City district is operating more schools than districts with a similar number of students, officials say. And it spends a higher percentage of its budget on operational costs — such as transportation, food services and security — than neighboring districts do.

By consolidating schools, the district aims to redirect funds to update buildings and increase offerings. Proposed academic changes include expanding curriculum, creating project-based learning opportunities and offering more field trips.

At the elementary level, schools would add science labs, world language classrooms and instrumental music. Secondary schools also would see music and arts improvements. The district also plans to update classrooms, create spaces for student collaboration, modernize science labs, improve technology and eliminate wi-fi dead zones.

Over the past couple of decades, many charter schools have opened and have drawn students away from district schools. About half of Kansas City students now attend a charter school. Enrollment in district-run schools is now at roughly 14,000 students. The result, officials say, is a system with too many under-enrolled schools, making it increasingly difficult to equitably serve all students and offer the same programs and resources across buildings. 

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