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Kansas City Schools will ask voters to approve a bond measure. It hasn't passed one in 50 years

A sign stuck into the grass off a sidewalk says "I (heart symbol) KC Public Schools" with the KCPS logo
Zachary Linhares
The Beacon
Signs outside of an enrollment fair held by Kansas City Public Schools on July 28, 2021, at Manual Career and Technical Center.

Kansas City Public Schools hopes passing a bond measure in 2025 would help address $400 million in deferred maintenance and modernize its learning environments.

Kansas City Public Schools has not passed a bond to fund long-standing maintenance needs in more than 50 years. In April 2025, the district will try to change its luck.

The district’s board of education decided at its Wednesday meeting to pursue the funding request, but didn’t decide how much money to ask for.

In a press release, officials said the district's buildings have more than $400 million in deferred maintenance that has “significantly impacted the quality of education and the overall learning experience for our students.”

Superintendent Jennifer Collier said in a message to families that KCPS needs fixes as soon as possible.

“Our children deserve better. They deserve modern and new buildings that will enhance their learning experiences and provide access to the latest technology,” Collier said. “We must set them up for success in a rapidly evolving and modern world.”

The financial move is a significant part of Blueprint 2030, the district’s long-term strategic plan to expand student opportunities like foreign language classes, instrumental music, science labs, elective courses, project-based learning and field trips.

The district decided to close two schools earlier this year in order to implement some of those academic goals, scaling back an initial proposal to close 10 schools.

Board members voted in September to maintain the district’s current tax levy with the intention of setting aside additional revenue from higher property assessments in Jackson County to address maintenance issues.

Just a month earlier, the district ended classes early during a heatwave in August, noting many of its high schools don't have air conditioning units in all classrooms.

The district hasn’t had a tax levy increase since 1998, when securing one required an amendment to the state constitution. No bond measure has passed since 1967.

The district funds its operating costs, building projects and debt service payments out of a levy set 25 years ago. Other Kansas City area school districts regularly receive voter support to raise levies or issue bonds to increase teacher pay or pay for new buildings.

Collier said the district will assess school conditions and student needs over the next few months. The district will also seek family, staff and community input to create a 10-year capital funding plan.

“We want to hear from the entire Kansas City community, including our incredible staff, about what the future of KCPS schools should look like,” Collier said. “There will be numerous opportunities for you to provide your feedback to join support movements, or help spread the word. “

More than ever, education lies at the intersection of equity, housing, funding, and other diverse issues facing Kansas City’s students, families and teachers. As KCUR’s education reporter, I’ll break down the policies driving these issues in schools and report what’s happening in our region's classrooms. You can reach me at jodifortino@kcur.org.
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