Education | KCUR

Education

KCUR 89.3 covers education issues across the Kansas City region and in Kansas and Missouri. 

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Courtesy UM System

It’s likely layoffs will be necessary to pay for what University of Missouri System President Mun Choi outlined as priorities in a speech last week.

That’s according to Board of Curators Chairman David Steelman.

“Some people are going to lose their jobs. There are going to be program cuts, but we’re going to get the money now for the investments this state needs,” Steelman said Wednesday on KCUR’s Up To Date.

Funding for running school buses in Missouri could return to state funding goals within five years if the state education department’s request to the legislature is fulfilled.

Missouri education officials outlined a $6.3 billion budget for the 2020 fiscal year to the state Board of Education Tuesday, which asks state lawmakers for more transportation aid and per-student funding as part of a $140 million increase in its budget.

KCUR Photo Illustration / Lee's Summit R-7 School District

Is it preferable to build new schools or renovate old ones?

Should the priority be to minimize the fiscal impact or minimize student disruption as more families move into the district?

Is it important to consider equity of learning environments when making facilities decisions?

These are questions the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District will ask students, parents, teachers and taxpayers at a series of community engagement events this fall.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

DeLaSalle Education Center has long been the last resort of Kansas City teens who haven’t succeeded anywhere else.

“Back in 1993 when I went, this school for bad kids,” Christina Boyd remembers. “If you had behavioral issues, if you fell behind too far in school, if you were a teen mother, you went to De La Salle when no one else wanted you in the school district.”

Wichita Public School teachers are receiving a more than a 3.5 percent increase in salary. In Topeka, the increase is nearly 8 percent, that district's largest in 26 years.

School districts across Kansas are raising salaries, restoring cut positions and adding new jobs.

Courtesy Scott Hanson / The Family Conservancy

There aren’t enough licensed child care centers in Wyandotte County to serve all working families with young children, according to a community health assessment.

That’s why the Family Conservancy and other community groups are launching the Start Young initiative to improve access to high-quality child care for kids younger than 6.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

New routines as school starts can overwhelm kindergarteners, especially if they didn’t go to preschool.

That’s why many Kansas City area school districts try to ease the transition for young students with summer programs.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Cafeteria workers at Center Middle School are getting ready to cook up protein-rich breakfasts when kids come back on Wednesday.

“So this here is our egg muffin,” says Marjorie Rice, the kitchen lead at Center Middle School. “What this consists of is peppers and cheese and egg, and it’s a full serving of protein. We cook that, and it puffs up like a muffin, and then we wrap it and it goes into the bag with either salsa or hot sauce.”

Turns out, the hot sauce is pretty key to getting kids to eat the breakfasts.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Mayor Sly James is ready to fight for a 3/8-cent sales tax to improve access to quality preschool in Kansas City.

“Only 35 percent of the kids in this city are engaged in quality pre-K. We have 40 percent of zip codes in deserts where there is no quality pre-K,” James said Monday on KCUR’s Up To Date.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Students in the EMT class at Manual Career and Technical Center were honest when Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bedell asked if they were excited or scared to be back at school.

Scared, said Jayla, a senior. “I just don’t want to fail,” she told Bedell, “and I don’t want to disappoint anybody. Because I refuse to fail.”

Bedell, who made stops at several KCPS schools Monday morning, nodded sympathetically.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

It was back to school Friday for some Johnson County students.

For many years now, the Shawnee Mission School District has had a transition day for students moving into a new school building. According to Shawnee Mission West Principal Steve Loe, having just ninth graders on the first day lets new high school students meet their teachers and get acquainted with the building before they have to share the halls with upperclassmen.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Long lines, loud music ... and backpacks?

All month long, community organizations have been passing out school supplies to kids at events that feel less like back-to-school fairs and more like outdoor concerts.

CC -- Bigstock

By working with neighboring school districts and community health partners, Olathe Superintendent John Allison thinks Johnson County might actually be able to change the conversation on teen suicide.

“Each of the Johnson County school districts has taken a little different approach,” Allison says. “I think that’s been key to our conversation that started last spring, is to learn from each other to try to see what’s worked and at the same time to blend our limited resources to best support each other.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The wait for immunizations at the Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department most afternoons this summer has been two, sometimes three hours – and it’s likely to get worse as the first day of school nears.

“Morning times are probably the easiest to get in,” says Bill Snook, a spokesman for the health department. “Later times, you should expect a long wait.”

J.G. Park / Flickr--Creative Commons

Black students in Missouri continue to be suspended at a disproportionate rate compared to their white peers, according to an analysis by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU updated a report it published last fall that found black children with disabilities received more than 40 percent of out-of-school suspensions despite making up only 16 percent of the student population receiving special education services.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Chappell Electric is the very definition of a small business: call, and owner Germaine Chappell picks up on the second ring.

“Our motto is to exceed above expectations,” Chappell says. “Every job we go on, we give 100 percent and go up and beyond what the general contractor or the client is asking for.”

The Harbinger / YouTube

When Christopher Justice got a text message from a friend earlier this summer, he didn't know what it meant: "You're Twitter famous."

Justice had just graduated from Shawnee Mission East High School, and he was spending an uneventful few months working at a pizza place before heading off to college at Wichita State University. He didn't even have a Twitter account.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

There's good news for a Kansas City elementary school that wasn’t sure how it would continue a successful tutoring program that helps transient students catch up in English and math: a $75,000 grant from the Kauffman Foundation will keep it alive.

Courtesy Shawnee Mission School District

The Shawnee Mission School District is still searching for someone to lead its beleaguered special education department.

The district came under fire last year after the Kansas Department of Education found some students with special needs weren’t getting all federally required services. Students who are gifted also qualify for special education in Kansas.

SMSD Superintendent Michael Fulton sent an email to parents earlier this week announcing Assistant Superintendent Christy Ziegler would be taking over the special education department on an interim basis.

Missouri charter schools will now be able to give preference to poor or struggling students in its lottery admissions system.

That change was part of an omnibus education bill signed into law last week by Gov. Mike Parson. Some charter schools in St. Louis have struggled to maintain their mission as they increased in popularity and surrounding neighborhoods gentrified.

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Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James rolled out the beginning of his “Pre-K for KC” campaign that could help make high quality early childhood education more affordable for local children.

The initiative calls for funding the program with a three-eighths cent sales tax increase for Kansas City, Missouri. On Tuesday, James announced the beginning of a petition process to collect signatures to get the proposed tax on the November ballot.

Union County Public Schools

The new Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools district superintendent says he wants to increase graduation rates and make sure every student is reading at grade level by second grade.

But Charles Foust will have to make those gains with a budget that the Kansas Supreme Court found doesn’t live up to the “adequate” standard set in the state constitution.

Union County Public Schools

The Kansas City, Kansas school board chose Charles Foust as the district’s next superintendent in a  meeting Tuesday night.

The 5-2 vote to select Foust elicited gasps and a loud boo from an audience of around 100 people.

Brandi Thorpe

Brandi Thorpe says her 10-year-old son D’Juan Franklin is a loving, intelligent child, who loves playing football and baseball. He's also autistic.

When Thorpe transferred him to the New Beginnings School in the Lansing, Kansas, district — a school dedicated to special education — she was hopeful that her son would get the support he needed. And, he did, up until the morning of January 17, 2017.

On Monday, the Kansas Supreme Court issued a ruling that effectively said the state’s public schools could open in the fall. Yet the same decision left local district officials on Tuesday and beyond with continued, long-term uncertainty.

The high court’s decision could lead to continued fighting over school funding and the topic will likely serve as political fodder in state elections.

Tuition at public universities in Kansas is going up. School officials blame the increase on rising costs and years of dwindling state funding alongside flat enrollment.

The hikes all fall below the 3.1 percent average increase for state universities across the nation last year. Still, most Kansas public universities received increases above the nation’s inflation rate of about 2 percent.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

(This story has been updated.)

Kansas continues to underfund its schools, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled Monday — a decision that could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars more over the next four years.

But because the Legislature agreed to significant hikes in funding this spring, the justices gave it another year to add to the amount it sends to local school districts.

The high court could have forced lawmakers back to Topeka in coming weeks to fix the problem or face school closures, something the state’s lawyers begged it not to do.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Asha Moore just finished her ninth year teaching. She loves being an educator, but she isn’t returning to the classroom in the fall. Instead, she’ll be taking over the dean of students job at the Academy for Integrated Arts, a Kansas City charter school focused on the arts. 

Moore had been interested in taking on a leadership role for a while. She received her master’s degree five years ago, but she didn’t feel ready until last year, when her principal started in a new program, KC PLUS, or Pathway to Leadership in Urban Schools.

New Kansas City Public Schools Boundary Map Draws Criticism

Jun 20, 2018
Aviva Okeson-Haberman / 89.3

Kansas City Public Schools isn’t getting the new district boundary map it endorsed.

On Wednesday, the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners said it would instead go with a new boundry map drawn by consultants.

The school district has been in the process of complying with a state law that requires the nine-member board to eliminate one subdistrict and one at-large seat by next April.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Ahead of a state-mandated redistricting of school board seats, the Kansas City Public Schools Board of Education has put forth its own map suggesting how the boundaries should be drawn.

The proposed map builds on the work of three consultants hired by the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners and incorporates community feedback, KCPS Board of Education Chair Melissa Robinson wrote in a letter to commissioners.

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