Kansas City Kansas Public Schools (KCKPS) | KCUR

Kansas City Kansas Public Schools (KCKPS)

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.

Jessica Smith seated in front of a microphone in the KCUR studio.
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: How local activists are reducing student homelessness on the Kansas side of the metro.

Over the last several years a coalition of social services groups in Kansas City, Kansas, operating under the banner Impact Wednesday, have been working to cut in half the number of homeless students in the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools. Today, we heard how the district is collaborating with Impact Wednesday and volunteer teachers to reach zero homelessness among students by 2020. 

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.

LUKE X. MARTIN/KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City, Kansas Public School district has announced the final two candidates to succeed superintendent Cynthia Lane, who retires at the end of this month.

The district will conduct interviews this week for Jayson Strickland and Charles Foust this week. Both finalists will attend public meet-and-greet events.

A picture of a women with gray hair in KCUR studio. Subject visable from chest up.
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Kansas City Police Department shootings raise questions about when it's acceptable for police to use lethal force.

In the course of one afternoon last week, Kansas City police officers shot and killed three people in two separate incidents. The first involved the shooting of a woman in the Northland who was armed with a decorative sword. In the first part of today's program, we heard an eyewitness account of the killing, and discussed when police can and should use deadly force.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools Superintendent Cynthia Lane attributes her three decade career in education to a frog.

Lane went to college to be a clinical psychologist but a required biology class asked her to insert a needle into a frog’s brain.

“It was a live animal that we were going to do an experiment on to see reactions,” Lane says. “I could not do that. So I left class, went down the hall and said, ‘I need to change my major.’”

Labudde Special Collections, Miller Nichols Library/UMKC

It started with high school students.

On Tuesday, April 9, 1968, five days after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, and the day of his funeral, the Kansas City, Kansas school district canceled classes.

But in Kansas City, Missouri, the school board and police department felt it would be safer to have students in class and off the streets.

Michael Ali was a student at the mostly-black Central High School.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

One of the most outspoken school superintendents in Kansas, often a lightning rod for conservatives in the Legislature, announced Tuesday night that she is retiring in June.

Cynthia Lane has led Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools for eight years and spent 29 years in the district. Before KCK she was director of special education in the Spring Hill District.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

More than 3,000 students in the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools stand to improve their chances of graduating from high school and pursuing higher education, thanks to an $18 million federal grant that will allow tutoring, mentoring and other services for students from sixth grade through their first year of college.

Pixabay - CC

As summer wanes, students and teachers across all metro districts are getting ready for a new school year, but the challenges faced by teachers in urban settings can differ greatly from their suburban colleagues. Today, we speak with educators from both sides of the state line to learn about the rigors and rewards of teaching in the inner-city.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

David Howard, Superintendent of the Basehor-Linwood school district, and David Smith, Chief of Public Affairs for Kansas City Kansas Public Schools, react to a school funding formula that has been proposed in the Kansas Legislature.   

Maria Carter / KCUR 89.3

Another metro school district is at a contract impasse with its teachers.

Teachers and the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools are heading into non-binding fact finding after failing to reach a deal.

The two sides held talks with a mediator twice last month but that also failed to result in a contract.

Teachers and the district say the dispute is not over how much of a pay hike to give but rather how to distribute the two percent raise.

Getty Images/NBA

Kansas City may be known more as a college basketball town these days, but two NBA head coaches with Kansas City ties, Cleveland’s Tyronn Lue and Phoenix’s Earl Watson, will make history when their teams face each other on Sunday.

Last June, the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA championship and set off a celebration in that city. At the same time, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue, a graduate of Raytown High School, couldn’t pry himself from the bench. He sat with his face buried in his hands.

Sobbing.

Laura Ziegler 89-3

An anti-establishment wave that rippled across the country Tuesday night didn't seem to put a damper on support for a host of tax increases in Kansas and Missouri. Voters in a number of counties supported sales and property taxes to fund public services in a number of municipalities.

Here's a look at them:

The Combat Tax

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

When Paul Dorrell opened an art gallery 25 years ago, people told him he was crazy for representing only Missouri and Kansas artists.

"Everybody thought I was out of my mind," Dorrell says. "That it was a sure road to bankruptcy, that nobody would ever care about Kansas and Missouri artists, that Kansas City and the Midwest in general were a lost cause culturally, so why bother?"

Maria Carter / KCUR 89.3

At Frank Rushton Elementary, students aren’t just getting new boxes of pencils and crayons. They’re getting a whole new school.

"Compared to the other building, it’s really nice,” says parent Ayesha Marks. “I like the library upgrade with the computer and books and everything.”

“It’s awesome,” says third-grader Gianni Ramos of the school. “It’s much bigger and has more space.”

A lot more space. The old building, near the intersection of 43rd and Rainbow Ave., was jam-packed.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

A special session focused on solving Kansas' nettlesome school funding problem begins Thursday. At stake: school itself. The Kansas Supreme Court has threatened a statewide shutdown of schools if lawmakers don't make funding more equitable before June 30.

It's not an overstatement, then, to say most Kansans will be impacted by what happens in Topeka over the next few days. 

In the 1950s, Delano Lewis was a student at segregated Sumner High School in Kansas City, Kansas. Since then, he's held top positions in the Peace Corps, served as president of NPR, was a board member at Apple and served as the U.S. Ambassador to South Africa.  

Delano Lewis speaks about the power of education on his life tonight at 5 p.m. at the Kauffman Foundation. To register to attend go to www.kauffman.org.

File photo

In a ruling that has Kansas educators cheering, the state Supreme Court has upheld a district court panel ruling that block grant school funding is unconstitutional.

In a near unanimous ruling, the justices said the state is not meeting its equity burden under the state Constitution, which mandates that Kansas children have a right to an equal education whether they live in a poor or rich district.

The justices, as they have historically done, did not order the Legislature to spend a specific amount to fix the equity issue.

Liz / Wikimedia Commons

We’re a month away from a Kansas Supreme Court showdown on whether the state is providing enough money for public schools.

The final briefs in this part of the case were filed Friday.

The arguments from the school districts and the state haven’t changed much over the years.

The school district plaintiffs, including the Kansas City, Kansas School District, say the state needs to provide more money to make sure all Kansas kids get an equal education.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

When you get called down to the office in high school it is often for something unpleasant.

But for 575 Kansas City, Kansas School District students that surprise call might be exactly the boost they need to go to college. "It was like, surprising and really thrilling. Like, yes, wow, finally," says Wyandotte High School senior Katya Diaz right after she picked up her offer from Kansas City Kansas Community College Monday.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Mike Besler is a former Kansas state high school champion quarterback and a member of the Blue Valley West High School Hall of Fame. But he still needs a coach. 

"When I first heard, I was kind of like, 'I want my own space.' But now that I've seen how resourceful it is, it's made a world of difference," Besler says. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Area school districts seeking additional state aid due to increased enrollment took a beating from the State Finance Council Monday.

Five area districts applied for money from the Extraordinary Needs Fund, a pool of money the Legislature created when it approved block grant funding last session.

But two walked away with no additional state aid. Olathe asked for $458,501 and got zero. Bonner Springs requested $155,094 and also got nothing.

Brad Wilson / Flickr-CC

Lawmakers on the State Finance Council meet Monday in Topeka to determine how much money nearly 40 public school districts in Kansas will get from the state's extraordinary needs fund.

Here are some questions you may have, answered by KCUR's education reporter Sam Zeff. 

1. Kansas has an 'extraordinary needs' fund? What is that?

Sam Zeff / KCUR

It will be a tense day at the Kansas Statehouse Monday as 38 school districts ask the state for more money on top of the block grants they received for this school year.

The districts are asking for Extraordinary Needs Funding, money set aside by the Legislature when it dumped the previous school funding formula for the block grant scheme. The $12.3 million pool is for districts who claim an extraordinary increase in enrollment or plummeting real estate values.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

When the State Finance Council meets next week, it's going to have some tough decisions to make. Kansas has $12.3 million in Extraordinary Needs Funds available but school districts are asking for almost $15.1 million.

File Photo / KCUR

This just might be the most challenging year in Kansas education in a generation.

State funding, teachers leaving the state and hiring issues are plaguing districts across the state.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The Kansas State Board of Education has narrowly approved a plan to loosen some teaching requirements for six school districts, including Kansas City, Kansas.

The 6-4 vote on Tuesday will allow the districts to hire people who have expertise in a subject but who lack a teaching license.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

When they’re not talking about how to fund education in the Kansas Statehouse, they’re talking about how to change it. How to improve it. How to get better results with the same money.

Six school districts across the state are now rolling out something that may do all of that.

The school districts in Concordia, Marysville, McPherson, Blue Valley, Hugoton and Kansas City, Kan., are all part of something called the Coalition of Innovative School Districts and they all want, among other things, to license teachers differently. In a way, they say, that works best for them.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

The best way to visualize a school district’s Internet connection may be to compare it to a busy network of highways:

First, an Internet service provider, like Time Warner or Google Fiber, sends in the Internet on one big eight-lane freeway to a district’s main servers. Here, the Internet connection may meet some firewalls and content filters — think of these as tollbooths — and then, the Internet is streamed out to the district’s schools through fiber cable on what you might think of as two-lane country roads.

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