KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A group of parents who have never before considered Kansas City Public Schools are now giving it a chance for the first time.
On Sunday Superintendent Steven Green greeted parents who are deciding whether to enroll their children at Hale Cook Elementary School.
The school, near 73rd Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, has been shuttered for years, but now a group of parents is asking the district to reopen it.
They want a school their children can walk to in their southwest Kansas City neighborhood.
In recent decades, many families in the area have either opted for private schools or moved across the state line to Kansas, rather than enroll their children in the district. KCPS lost accreditation in 2000, regained provisional accreditation in 2002 and lost it again in 2011.
On Sunday at Hale Cook, Green greeted dozens of families, most of whom were white.
The district struggled for years to become desegregated.
However, even advocates of school desegregation believe urban public school systems must attract families like those who toured Hale Cook Sunday in order to survive and thrive.
Green said he saw new hope in the young families.
"I saw people sitting there excited about it, in the process of making decisions now," Green said. "I think we helped them make it."
The district will be creative as it sets attendance boundaries for the school to encourage some equity in demographics.
KCPS says it needs about 55 children to fill one first-grade classroom and two kindergarten classes to reopen the school.
The school will spend its first year in classrooms at Hartman Elementary, then move into Hale Cook in the fall of 2014.
Hale Cook will add a new grade each year until it has a full elementary school of kindergarten through sixth graders.
The proposed Hale Cook boundary runs mainly between State Line Road and Oak Street, and from Brush Creek to around 77th Street, taking in mostly middle-class neighborhoods.
The eastern boundary reaches out to neighborhoods on The Paseo along 63rd Street.