KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A conference room at Manual Career Technical Center got steamy in a hurry Thursday. It wasn't because anyone was yelling. Instead, the heat came from the sheer number of people who packed in to hear the monthly report on Kansas City Public Schools.
For the first time, Kansas City Public Schools had parents, teachers, district leaders, community members and the state educator team in one place at one time. They hope collaborating will help KCPS earn back its accreditation.
The group is referred to as the Regional School Improvement Team Meeting. The state education team embedded in the group is responsible for helping KCPS improve student achievement and district business.
This month, Kansas City Public Schools had success to report. The curriculum team reported small successes in every ethnicity in math and communication arts. Plus, KCPS reported more high schoolers are going to school this year than in the last two years.
Dr. Tony Stansberry is the chair of the state team. He said this process has been used in three other metro schools. This time is different.
Stansberry explained, "The process does work. And what we're doing here in Kansas City. Because they've been unaccredited, we are really ramping that program up."
Stansberry's plan includes an Instructional Coordinator that he plans to have in place by the Spring.
He said, "We'll have someone in schools that will going to classrooms, watching teachers teach."
Parent Jamekia Kendrix was happy to be involved in the group effort.
She said it's the right step to take to regain accreditation.
She countered one member of the state education team's doubts about why changes could happen now.
"The difference this time is community collaboration."
Her two children are Kansas City students. Kendrix said she watched the district slowly decline and then start improving again two years ago.
She explained, "This kind of put the spotlight on it. So, now we have the opportunity for other people to recognize: It isn't as bad as it seems."
Andrea Flinders, president of the local teachers union, was happy with the collaboration but worried some major issues for teachers are slipping through the cracks.
Flinders said, "As I'm listening to all of this going on, I'm thinking, OK, maybe we need to meet with them separately or maybe we just need to get a list our perspective on some of these issues and make sure the DESE team has those."
This group hopes to jump start success in the district that lawmakers in Jefferson City are threatening to dissolve or take over.
The group will meet again in one month.
A Missouri Senate committee just approved a bill Wednesday that would dissolve the district into neighboring districts as early as next summer. It still needs full Senate approval before it moves to the House.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said the bill doesn't help anyone.
"There are a number of students right now in classrooms with teachers in that school district studying hard, working hard, getting good grades," Nixon said. "I don't think public officials should be down talking to people that in those classrooms doing the work as we speak."
Editor's Note: A previously-published version of this story incorrectly stated the meeting was to be held at Union Station. KSHB.com apologizes for any confusion caused by the error.