Bump in voter turnout after Westport goes unsold

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Tuesday school board elections in Kansas City have had an abysmal turnout, save for a few areas.

Voters in those areas said they are upset about a controversial school board vote almost two weeks ago.

Parents at Academie Lafayette, one of the few successful charter schools within the Kansas City Public Schools boundaries, are upset about a closed session school board 4-3 decision. Board members voted down a plan to expand Academie Lafayette's K-8 successful program into a high school.

One of the board members who voted for the Academie Lafayette plan, Crispin Rea, has since asked for a public re-vote on April 23 once the new school board is in place.

But parents like Crissy Dastrup said they’re angry and are encouraging people to express their frustrations at the ballot box. She said she has never voted in a school board election until now.

Sources, who wanted to remain unidentified because the vote was taken in a closed session, said some members hoped to instead reconstruct and reopen the empty Westport High School into a KCPS school.
Since 2010, the unaccredited district has had 30 empty buildings, including Westport High School, to sell. Only seven of them have been repurposed.

Whatever the reasons for the surprising 4-3 vote, parents like Dastrup said they feel like elected board members didn't listen to the wants of the community.

Outgoing school board member Crispin Rea agrees.

"Folks across the city understand that if Kansas City is going to be successful as a city we need a fully functioning successful school system," Rea said.

"The main issue is that our public servants were not listening to their constituency, the people who've moved here for the urban experience," Dastrup said.

Four of the nine school board seats are open for election.

Incumbent Joe Jackson is the only member directly exposed to whatever fallout might come. The 2nd and 6th subdistrict incumbents Gunnar Hand and Carl Evans, are unopposed.

The two at-large seats have no incumbents. Kyleen Carroll left the board last year.

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