Kansas City's First City School Fair Draws Large Turnout, Provides Options
Balloons were practically spilling out of the doors, as parents and children filed into the Central Library in downtown Kansas City for the first ever City School Fair this weekend.
The library was buzzing throughout the day, with a steady crowd of visitors. Fifty schools were in attendance, spread out at booths on all three floors of the library.
"It's kind of like a college fair," said library spokesperson Courtney Lewis.
The event was designed by Show Me KC Schools, the Library and the Office of the Mayor, to provide parents an opportunity to get to know their options and make an informed choice for their children.
And, with mostly children in attendance under the age of 12, parents were taking early education options nearly as seriously as college. Parent and teacher Bart Tittle was pleasantly surprised by the turnout.
"A lot of people are enthusiastic about Kansas City, Missouri education, and that feels really exciting," Tittle said.
He and his wife were at the event to explore future school options for their preschooler and new baby. Tittle said it can be overwhelming.
"Growing up you didn't think about all the options, you just went to the school down the street," he said. "We're thinking about a lot more things than our parents did."
There are over 100 schools within the Kansas City Public School District boundaries, ranging from traditional neighborhood schools to private schools to charter schools.
Speaking to the crowd mid-day, Mayor Sly James emphasized the positive developments in the KCPS district, like nationally high-ranking standardized test scores for University Academy, new charter schools, and last week's announcement that the district earned full points for accreditation for the first time in 30 years.
"The perception of the [KCPS] district lags behind the reality of the school district," he said. "The reality is it is improving, and it is changing."
James said that perception could change with parents like the ones who attended the fair.
"We need parents to talk, read and play with their child every day," he said. "And whatever school you choose for your child, choose to be involved in that school."
Andrea Tudhope is a freelance reporter and producer for KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter @adtudhope.