A map of Kansas City Public Schools showing plans for schools opening and closing
A map showing the proposal for closing, opening and converting schools was presented during a Kansas City Public Schools board meeting Oct. 12. The school board is likely to vote on the proposal in December. (Screenshot)

When Kansas City Public Schools last week presented recommendations for the district’s sweeping new long-term plan, it also distributed a timeline of when school closures, funding efforts, new academic programs and renovations would hypothetically roll out. 

The plan isn’t set in stone, and there are several avenues for it to change before a board vote, likely in December. 

The administration could adjust the recommendations in response to community feedback, which it plans to collect during a series of public meetings through early November. 

At the school board meeting to announce the changes, some community members were already expressing particular concern about the proposal to close Central High School and move students to Southeast High School. Participants in the first community engagement session also largely focused on Central.

Even if the administration doesn’t make major changes to what it’s recommending, school board members could decide not to vote for the proposal as it currently stands. 

If the proposal is approved, the district would struggle to move the plan past its early stages without voter approval of one or more bonds, which would allow Kansas City Public Schools to pay for many of the suggested construction projects, including new buildings, additions and renovations. 

But if the board approves the plan in its current form, new academic initiatives and planning for new and renovated school buildings would begin immediately. Here’s what the remainder of the decade could look like. 

Fall 2022

Academic vision:

  • Add culturally responsive teaching.
  • Add literacy strategies and math strategies.
  • Increase instrumental music in high schools.
  • Add reading and math professional development tracks for teachers.

Funding and bonds:

  • Hire an architect and begin planning and polling for a bond project.
  • Secure funding for a career and technical education center and new South Middle School.

Construction and design:

  • Begin design for career and technical education center and new South Middle School.

Spring 2023

Academic vision:

  • Evaluate pilot programs.

Funding and bonds:

  • Continue planning.

Fall 2023

Academic vision:

  • Add instrumental music in elementary schools.
  • Add guaranteed field trips for every student.

Schools:

  • Close Central High School. It may be used as a professional learning center and as a temporary site for students as renovations take place in other schools. Many students would likely move to Southeast High School.
  • Close Longfellow Elementary School. Many students would likely move to Primitivo Garcia or Hale Cook elementary schools. 
  • Close Troost Elementary School. Many students would likely transition to Hartman and Banneker elementary schools. 
  • Close James Elementary School. Many students would likely move to Gladstone Elementary School. 
  • All three of the closed elementary schools would be repurposed rather than kept for future KCPS use. 

Funding and bonds:

  • $6.7 million is no longer needed for operation of schools after closures and becomes available for academic vision.
  • Bond planning continues.

Spring 2024

Funding and bonds:

  • Vote on the first bond issue would take place in April.

Construction and design:

  • Construction on South Middle School finished.
  • Design work begins for sites funded by the first bond.

Fall 2024

Academic vision:

  • Grade levels in each school become more standardized: pre-K-5, pre-K-8, 6-8 and 9-12.
  • Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts adds a world language theme.
  • Family empowerment center opens.
  • All schools add project-based learning.
  • Elementary schools add science labs.

Schools:

  • South Middle School opens.
  • King Elementary School closes. Many students would likely transition to Hartman, Faxon and Melcher elementary schools. The Faxon and Melcher students would then attend the new King Elementary School when it opens. 
  • Wheatley Elementary School closes. Many students likely transition to Phillips or Rogers elementary schools. 
  • Whittier Elementary School closes. Many students likely transition to Phillips, Garfield, Rogers or Trailwoods elementary schools. 
  • Whittier and Wheatley would be repurposed rather than kept for future district use. King Elementary School would become the new Paseo Middle School. 
  • Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts houses grades 6-12 in its high school building.

Funding and bonds:

  • $731,319 is no longer needed for operation of schools after closures and becomes available for academic vision.

Construction and design:

  • Start construction at bond sites including new King Elementary School and expansions of East High School and Southeast High School.

Spring 2025

Academic vision:

  • Evaluate pilot programs.

Construction and design:

  • Finish career and technical education center.

Fall 2025

Academic vision: 

  • Add world language classrooms and science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) classrooms in elementary schools.
  • Add competency-based learning, expand world language offerings and add college and career pathways to high schools.

Schools

  • Renovated career and technical education center opens.
  • Former King Elementary School becomes new Paseo Middle School, grades 6-8.
  • Paseo High School becomes grades 9-12.

Spring 2026

Academic vision: 

  • Evaluate pilot programs.

Construction and design:

  • Finish construction at all bond sites.

Fall 2026

Academic vision:

  • Evaluate new programs; adjust as needed.

Schools:

  • Faxon Elementary School closes. 
  • Melcher Elementary School closes. 
  • New King Elementary School opens, largely attended by students from Faxon, Melcher and the former King Elementary School. 
  • Southeast High School and East High School expansions open.
  • Northeast High School closes. Many students would likely transition to the expanded East and Southeast high schools. 

Funding and bonds:

  • $5.7 million is no longer needed for operation of schools after closures and becomes available for academic vision.
  • KCPS school board approves second bond issue for ballot.

Spring 2027

Funding and bonds:

  • Public vote on second bond issue takes place.

Fall 2027

Academic vision:

  • Evaluate new programs; adjust as needed.

Schools: 

  • Lincoln College Preparatory Academy students move to former Northeast High School building while their building is renovated.

Construction and design:

  • Begin construction at bond sites, including Lincoln and others.

Spring 2029

Construction and design:

  • Finish work at bond sites.

Fall 2029

Schools:

  • Open expanded Lincoln College Preparatory Academy.
  • Open other building renovations at bond sites.

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Maria Benevento is the education reporter at The Kansas City Beacon. She is a Report for America corps member. Follow her on Twitter @MariaFBenevento.