A meeting on Monday night with parents and neighbors continued to explore the possibility of reopening Lincoln Middle School to address increasing enrollment at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy.
The meeting was held at Troost Elementary School.
Lincoln College Prep, which opened its doors in the 1930s and is now home to more than 1,000 students, has been the recipient of a number of awards over the years.
In 2015 and 2016, it was named the top high school in Missouri by U.S. News & World Report.
The Washington Post also named Lincoln College Prep as the “Most Challenging High School in Missouri” earlier this year.
As a result of the accolades, Kansas City Public Schools said Lincoln Prep continues to see more applicants and a longer waiting list.
“When you see that number one school, everyone wants to send their children there,” explained KCPS News and Media Technology Manager Justin Robinson. “What we do know is that there are a number of students who do meet the criteria that just cannot get into this building."
Lincoln Prep is part of the Kansas City public school system but requires students to apply to attend.
As a result of more children having to be on a waiting list for the top school, Robinson said more families may be driven to move away from the city or go to a private school.
“If you want to live downtown in the urban core area, once you get to the point you have school-aged kids, a lot of people make the decision to leave,” he explained. “We want to eliminate that process. We want to still have the criteria to get in this building but if you meet that criteria, we want to make sure we have space for you."
Lincoln College Prep is undergoing renovations this summer to add more space to the current facility.
On Monday, Robinson showed 41 Action News work being done on the cafeteria and library.
Both rooms are switching spots with one another with the cafeteria moving to the first floor to accommodate twice the amount of students.
However, school leaders continue to explore options to address the increasing demand to go to the school.
One option includes reopening Lincoln Middle School, which is currently used for office space, and moving Lincoln Prep’s 6th, 7th, and 8th graders to the facility.
Robinson told 41 Action News that by making the move, at least 300 seats would open up for the high school.
As a result, more students could be admitted and more families could be attracted to move to the area.
“That's property values. That's quality of life here in the area,” Robinson explained.
At least one realtor who spoke to 41 Action News said families often call him and ask about Lincoln College Prep.
“They've done the Internet search to find the information about Lincoln Prep available,” explained Dana Gibson of Mallin/Gibson Properties. “It's one of the answers and one of the drawing cards for people to move into downtown Kansas City, the option of Lincoln Prep."
Another meeting to gather input from parents and neighbors on whether to reopen Lincoln Middle School will be held on Tuesday at 5:30 pm at Manual Career & Technical Center.
Moving forward, Robinson said it is important to hear from the public.
"We want to hear more from the community about 'Is this really what they want?' If it is, we can try and make it happen," he explained.
Kansas City Public Schools also plans to launch an online survey on the matter for anyone who cannot attend this week’s meetings.