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Kansas City Neighborhood Academy To Close, Citing Proliferation Of Charters

Kansas City Neighborhood Academy
Students at Kansas City Neighborhood Academy play a classroom game. The charter, which opened in 2016, will close at the end of the school year.

Kansas City Neighborhood Academy, the only charter school sponsored by the Kansas City Public Schools, will close at the end of the school year, leaving 140 students and their families to find seats at other schools.

Parent Elizabeth Behrens said there were no warning signs that the school was in trouble until this week, when a letter went home saying that the board would vote Wednesday on the future of the school.

Despite vigorous efforts, we have struggled to meet our annual enrollment and budgetary goals. Slower than expected housing development around the school and the increasing number of seats available in our city also present significant obstacles for KCNA and has caused us to analyze the long-term sustainability of the school.

Last spring, nearly 700 students applied for spots at KCNA. About 240 showed up on the first day of school in August.

Behrens and her husband, who are white, chose the school because it had educators of color in leadership positions, and they wanted that modeled for their son, who is black.

“It was really important for us to put them in an environment that wasn’t just predominantly black students, but also embodied black culture and black excellence,” Behrens said.

Behrens said her son, who is adopted and transracial, has always been keenly aware of his skin color. She said when he started kindergarten at KCNA, he talked excitedly about “matching” his classmates and having brown skin.

Now her family has to find another school for her three children, one of whom has special needs. The deadline for priority admission at other charter schools and district schools has already passed. Behrens plans to tour two schools next week.

“We’re also looking into some other school districts, like we might actually completely transplant our family to not have to be part of this math and make sure that our kids are getting what they need,” she said.

KCNA opened in 2016. It served students in kindergarten through fourth grade.

A call to KCNA for comment was not immediately returned.

Elle Moxley covers education for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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