Hale Cook Elementary, once closed, could reopen in 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Three years of hard work has paid off for Waldo-area neighbors trying to reopen a shuttered school in the Kansas City Public Schools system.

On Friday, KCPS informed the Friends of Hale Cook, that it will open the school for class this fall. Hale Cook Elementary shut down in 2009.

"It was 'mothballed' with the intention of being reopened as a public elementary school in the future," Friends of Hale Cook chair Ashley Hand said.

The group has worked with the school district to show the neighborhood's interest in reviving the building. Friends of Hale Cook has also maintained the property to keep it attractive.

The school will start small with just two sections of kindergarten and one section of first grade. Hand said KCPS will begin renovations -- if 75 children are registered at Hale Cook by May 3. Students would begin the school year at Hartman Elementary while the work is done.

Hand said that even though KCPS is an unaccredited district, she is confident there will be more than enough interest.

"The community has kind of come around this closed building and approached the district, saying 'We are ready and we want to see this building open,'" Hand said.

Justin Wiercinski lives across the street from the school. Wiercinski and his wife purchased the home in hopes Hale Cook would open again.

"We have a one-year-old and it's nice to have another option," Wiercinski said.

He is not worried by the district's lack of accreditation.

"I think as long as we have community and parent involvement and the school district keeps moving the way that they've been moving, that I'm not concerned that it'll be a risk," Wiercinski said.

KCPS has not confirmed Hale Cook's reopening, but said it will release more information on Tuesday. Registration forms for Hale Cook are available on the district's website.

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