Parents set out to establish new future of KCMO schools

KANSAS CITY, Missouri - A new Kansas City Missouri public school could be open for business next year.

However, it could not be a tougher week to try to sell that idea to skeptical parents.

A group of people who love to live in Kansas City say they do not want the current state of the Kansas City, Missouri public school system to scare people like them away. 

It is why they are gearing up to generate interest in starting a new school: Hale Cook Elementary at 73rd and Pennyslvania.

Less than a week after the Missouri Board of Education stripped the district of its accreditation, the group of Kansas City parents say they want to start a new future in district.

They want to open a neighborhood school that may keep families from moving across the state line to higher performing classrooms.

Ashley Hand , with Friends of Hale Cook Elementary, said, "Without a strong educational opportunity for our children and our youth, we'll never see the kind of potential we all know that Kansas City has."

Research says that is true: a quality education attracts business, labor, higher property values and families.
For years, the Kansas City Missouri school district has dropped in performance and has dropped tens of thousands of families.

It is why families assembled at the empty school building Saturday.

Parent Mike Zarillo said, "We want public school to be an option."

Hale Cook Elementary, once a public school at West 73 Street and Pennsylvania, is within walking distance to Zarillo's home.

The school feeds Waldo and Brookside neighborhoods, but no one goes there because it is closed.

Zarillo said, "That's what we're working to do, make this an option for folks who live around you. There should be something everyone is entitled to. That's good for kids."

Friends of Hale Cook Elementary is a grassroots group of singles, parents and area residents and even includes support from acting school board president Derek Richey.

Starting October 1, they plan to go door to door and ask parents in the surrounding neighborhoods to take the plunge, have the guts to send their child to a brand new KCMO public school with its sights set on a new kind of future.

The new school would have a parental contract.

Hand said, "It says listen we expect that parents have to be active in their children's education."

It is a tough sell - on the same week the district lost its state accreditation after years of repeated, failing test scores and performance.

Hand said now is the time for the community and supportive businesses to help turn the tide, "We need to move forward and push now more than ever. This effort by the community is extremely critical to our success."

To get the district to open the school, Hale Cook Elementary needs about 300 students by the beginning of next school year.

100 people need to pledge interest by December.

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