State plan for unaccredited districts buys time for KCPS

Transfer law still looms for district

KANSAS CITY, Mo - A school accreditation plan presented to the Missouri State Board of Education on Tuesday buys time for the long-troubled Kansas City Public School district, but cannot address a transfer law that threatens to drain the district of students and money if a legislative solution is not found.

The plan, the result of months of work combining several different draft plans submitted to the state, leaves KCPS unaccredited but whole. It does not use the most controversial elements of a plan presented by education think tank CEE-Trust, which would have dissolved the traditional district structure immediately and replaced it with a New Orleans-style network of educator-run schools. 

On Tuesday, KCPS leaders praised the state’s decision. Superintendent Dr. Stephen Green noted that the state’s plan prized stability, long his rallying cry for the district, and borrowed heavily from a plan submitted by KCPS in response to the CEE-Trust plan.

“We stand strong on the work that we've done so far to turn this district around,” Green said. “We are moving in the right direction.”

But are they moving fast enough?

The state plan does not, and truthfully cannot, address the looming transfer law which would allow students to transfer out of unaccredited districts into accredited ones at the expense of their original home district. The transfer window for students to leave KCPS closed earlier this month. A district spokesperson told 41 Action News 24 students from 12 families applied to transfer out of the district for the next academic year.

More could follow if the district remains unaccredited, or could leave the district outright, as some 1,600 students did last year, moving to charters or other cities.

Dr. Green urged parents to trust him and his turnaround plan for the district.

“I encourage parents to stick with us and stay with us. And otherwise they may be coming back, even if they experience a year in another district, we're going to increase our numbers and then they have to come back,” Green told reporters – stopping just short of guaranteeing the district would reach provisional accreditation this fall. “As much as one can guarantee, I'm quite sure that we will be beyond provisional accreditation status.”

You can read the state's plan here: http://on.mo.gov/1gTAC7l

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