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Catholic Schools Want State Support For KCPS Transfers

Catholic Schools Superintendent Daniel Peters at Holy Cross Elementary School.
Sylvia Maria Gross
Catholic Schools Superintendent Daniel Peters at Holy Cross Elementary School.

Local Catholic School officials are looking for state support forKansas City Public School students to be able to transfer to private or religious schools.

Enrollment has declined over the past five years in schools in the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese. Catholic Schools Superintendent Danel Peters says they currently have room for at least 1000 more students.

"We provide a good quality education," Peters said. "Given the resources, we'll serve as many students as we possibly can, because our mission is to save kids."

Area Catholic schools range in tuition, but most educate students for less than public schools. The schools are accredited by AdvancEdand the Missouri Non-Public School Accrediting Association.

Peters testified in Jefferson City today for Senate Bill 706, which, among many other provisions, would create a special scholarship fund to support students in unaccredited districts who want to attend private schools.  Those who donate to the fund receive a tax credit of 60% of their contribution.

Should this bill fail, the diocese is endorsing a ballot measure for the tax credit.  Jude Huntz, director of the Kansas City-St.Joseph Diocese Human Rights Office, says the tax credit makes the system more fair for parents of private school students.

"Why should a person who makes that choice have to pay twice for their child's education?" Huntz said. "Why should they have to pay school taxes for schools they're not using?"

Another part of SB 706 would hand over management of Kansas City Public Schools to neighboring districts.  

Sylvia Maria Gross is storytelling editor at KCUR 89.3. Reach her on Twitter @pubradiosly.
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