KANSAS CITY, Mo. - On Monday, educational think tank CEE-Trust proposed the Missouri Board of Education dismantle the struggling Kansas City Public School District.
The proposal sounded daunting to some board members but there is one school that gives KCPS a hopeful glimpse into what Kansas City Public Schools could look like in the future.
If the Missouri State Board of Education decides to follow CEE-Trust's proposal and dismantle the struggling school district, high-performing charter schools are among the list of nonprofit operators that could replace the traditional school district.
One of the authors of the CEE-Trust proposal named charter school Academie Lafayette as an example school that could work.
The school already exists within the district boundaries and is made up of a diverse pool of urban students but its design and operation is entirely different than Kansas City Public Schools. There is no tuition and transportation is provided.
The model is working; the school has some of the state's highest test scores and has a long waiting list for its annual student lottery enrollment.
Principal of the French immersion charter school Heather Royce said there are a few things that make a difference and one of them is parental choice and involvement.
"When parents choose to send their child to school they are making an investment in the school community," she said.
CEE-Trust's proposal would allow parents to choose the school they wish within boundaries. It would also dissolve district power and give it to educators like Royce.
A local "community school office" and the state would still hold schools accountable.
Royce sets her school's curriculum, salaries, schedules, school culture, teacher accountability and, with the blessing of her board of directors, her own hires. She has hired the best teachers she can find from all over the world.
"I'm from France," Yael Israel said, a kindergarten teacher.
She has been at the school for eight years.
Royce said teachers stay longer here and students and parents have more say, all of which she and the CEE-Trust proposal said on Monday are the building blocks to long term student achievement and success.
"We have some of the best test scores in the state, all across the board," Royce said proudly.