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School District, Academie Lafayette Planning New Charter For Southwest Campus

Elle Moxley

Kansas City Public Schools is partnering with French immersion charter Academie Lafayette to open a new high school at the Southwest Early College Campus.

The new school will be both a public charter and a "signature" school, the designation KCPS gives to buildings with selective enrollment criteria. The district will provide the facility, and Academie Lafayette will run the school.

"So the vision of this model, should it become a reality, is a true partnership," says KCPS Superintendent R. Stephen Green. "That means equal stake in the game, equal contribution. There will be an equal number of Kansas City Public Schools and Academie Lafayette charter school students."

Though the new charter will be an International Baccalaureate school, not a language immersion academy, it will offer a continuous path for exiting Academie Lafayette students. 

"I'm really excited about the prospect of having a high school opportunity for the 800 plus kids who are currently at Academie Lafayette," says school president David Cozan. "Our families have long wanted a high school. We've been wanting this for a number of years now."

But the path forward is less clear for current Southwest students, many of whom will need to find a new school.  The tentative plan is to open the new charter with a class of ninth graders in fall 2015.

And while current Southwest middle schoolers will be able to apply to stay at the new school, older students will have to move elsewhere in the district.

"We will be meeting with families one on one," says Green.

He says displaced Southwest students will be able to apply to other signature schools or transfer to their neighborhood school.

Both Green and Cozan stressed that Friday's announcement is just the beginning of a year-long process, during which gathering feedback will be key. Academie Lafayette already has two parent meetings on the schedule for next week. The district has set community meetings for later this summer.

The plan replaces an earlier Academie Lafayette proposal to open a school at the old Westport High School.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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