KCPS Superintendent: It's time to split up middle and high school students

Plan would reopen middle schools, cost taxpayer $$

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The superintendent of Kansas City Public Schools says it's time to split up thousands of junior and senior high school students attending certain campuses.

The plan would call for reopening several middle schools in Kansas City, and would cost taxpayers a lot of money, though Superintendent Steven Green said he couldn't estimate exactly how much.

Green spoke with parents about the idea Sunday at a forum meeting. He told parents 12 and 13-year-olds are losing energy in the city's sprawling high schools. Since seventh and eighth graders joined the high schools in 2010, some schools have seen spikes in disruptive behavior, he added.

The school district wants parents to weigh in on the idea of separating junior and senior high schoolers by next spring.

This is a complete turnaround from 2007, when former superintendent Anthony Amato chose to close several of the older middle schools in Kansas City and consolidate them with high schools. His rational was that middle schools were the most unsafe and poorest performing schools in the district.

Now school leaders say the change shouldn't have been made in the first place. Kansas City Schools are already paving way for this concept; last week the school board approved two construction concepts to remodel and reactivate the empty middle schools next to Lincoln, Paseo and Northeast High Schools.

Green says students are coming into the schools very far behind and separating middle and high school students is the best way for them to catch up.

"If they're behind, they will stay behind," Green explained. "So, it takes educators teaching at a rate of 1.5-2 years towards growth in one year before we start to get ahead."

Green hasn't said how much it would cost to separate junior and senior high students, only saying it will cost more initially for construction.

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