Center Schools work to keep funding in Federal Bannister Complex sale

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Center Schools spent the last year working with the Bannister Transformation and Development LLC to make sure its funding was not hurt as the Bannister Federal Complex was sold.  

The Bannister Complex has sat vacant for years at the corner of Troost and Bannister, a sprawling 310 acres.  

Right now, the Center School District gets about $270,000 a year in federal impact aid.  

As the complex moved from federal to private ownership, the district feared it would be at a loss during the transition.  

"Developers usually need incentives to develop, and that can come out of the pockets of the school district," Rick Chambers said.

He has lived in south Kansas City for 32 years and has two sons who went to Center schools from kindergarten through high school.  

This is why the Center School District worked closely with the Bannister Transformation and Development LLC.  

''We helped host a couple of community forums to get ideas from those who lived in the area,” Kelly Wachel, executive director of public relations for the Center School District, said.  

Monday night, the school board approved a community benefit agreement that said the Bannister Transformation and Development LLC will pay the district from 2021 through 2024 as part of a PILOT, or payment in lieu of taxes plan.

That would total about $1 million. Wachel expected for the district to sign the agreement Tuesday, but it’s not a done deal yet.  

The ownership of the property has to be fully transferred and the agreement must be signed by the LLC.

This is good news to Chambers, who said the community wants to walk the fine line between development and school funding.  

“I think education is key to developing our future leaders,” Chambers said.  

Demolition of the plant could start before 2018, but it will take years because of the size and contamination concerns. Eventually, that area will be developed.  

“We will see a lot of companies that do distribution and light assembly.  Mainly distribution is what we will see,” Council Member Scott Taylor, said, adding that it could bring about 1,000 jobs to the once-vacant site.  

Taylor also said he believed this could bring development along the corridor that currently has vacancies, abandoned and some for-sale buildings.  

“The community – they do want the development with projects that enhance the quality of life, but they also want strong schools,” Chambers said.  

The Center School District is made up of eight schools – one early childhood center, four elementary schools, one middle school, one high school and one alternative school.  

Its annual budget is about $40 million, according to Wachel.

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