UMKC finals project helps KCMO schools

KANSAS CITY, Missouri - Thirteen seniors in the Urban Planning and Design program at UMKC figured out what to do with all the closed-down school buildings in Kansas City. Their project got the attention of the district and they shared their idea with school leaders. More than 30 school buildings sit empty, with 24 of them closing just last year.

“You feel the emptiness of what used to be there and a lot of these schools mean a lot to the people of the area,” said student Andrea Young.

The feeling of emptiness is especially true for Mark Dillon. He lives next to closed down Westport Middle School. He said homeless people have moved into the area.

“It just so affects our neighborhood property values I felt that I needed to be a part of the process, said Dillon.

The students said it took months of work. They went through piles of data to determine how the buildings are zoned and how likely it would be for them to sell.

“There were times when we thought we weren't going to be able to do it, but in the end we pulled it together,” said Young.

The students recommended a majority of the buildings be sold or leased. They believe community centers, daycares, and living spaces could be a good fit for some of the buildings.

Shannon Jaax is heading up the process for the district. She says school leaders will strongly consider the recommendations.

“Really the first couple of months will really be digesting the information, reaching out to the community getting an idea of what their interests are.

The district will hold several community meetings to get input. The meetings start in February.

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