KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Voters in three suburban Kansas City, Missouri, school districts decided Tuesday to join the Junior College District of Metropolitan Kansas City, Missouri.
Residents in the Liberty, Grain Valley and Oak Grove school districts will now be eligible for in-district tuition rates of $107 per credit hour, which are nearly half of the out-of-district tuition rate.
“Our expectation was to get one big district and a couple of little ones,” MCC Chancellor Dr. Kimberly Beatty said. “We obviously had hoped that we would get more of the districts coming in, and would have loved for that to happen, but this is a win. It totally meets my expectations. I woke up feeling great and went to bed and slept well last night."
Voters in five other school districts rejected a similar question about attaching to the Junior College District.
Prospective Metropolitan Community College students in the Harrisonville, Kearney, Platte County, Raymore-Peculiar and Smithville school districts will continue to pay $198 per credit hour.
"The voters have spoken," Beatty said. "We created the invitation and maybe they’ll, in the future, see the opportunity and come to us and invite us to do the ballot. I don’t see that in the immediate future, though."
She added that the Ray-Pec election result was the most surprising, because the attachment question polled highest in that district before the election. More than 70% of voters on Tuesday voted against attachment.
Beatty said the vagaries of April elections may have impacted results at the polls, where Cass County voter turnout was 14.59% overall.
"April elections don’t have a history of having a broad, diverse group coming to the polls," she said. "As a result, that may be what occurred. But there’s always opportunities for us to improve our messaging."
Property owners in the Liberty, Grain Valley and Oak Grove school districts will now be subject to a modest property-tax increase.
By attaching to the Junior College District, which funds the five-campus Metropolitan Community College system, properties are now subject to a 0.2128 tax levy.
That means property owners will pay 21.28¢ per every $100 of assessed value, which is determined as 19% of the property’s fair-market value.
But the benefit is a 46% reduction in tuition rates for all residents enrolled in classes at MCC-Blue River in Independence, MCC-Longview in Lee’s Summit, or MCC-Business & Technology, MCC-Maple Woods and MCC-Penn Valley in Kansas City, Missouri.
The new tuition rate for residents in Grain Valley, Liberty and Oak Gtove will go into effect for the summer enrollment term.
"We already have quite a few (students), especially from Liberty, and from Grain Valley and Oak Grove," Beatty said. "We’re just excited. Now that it’s official, we say welcome to the Wolfpack.”
Most associate’s degrees require 62 credit hours, so that translates to a savings of $5,642 for in-district students compared to out-of-district students.
The addition of the three new school districts is expected to provide MCC a net gain of $1.5 million, according to Beatty, which is a little less than 1% of the system's $160-million operating budget.
Twelve other suburban Kansas City districts — Belton, Blue Springs, Center, Fort Osage, Grandview, Hickman Mills, Independence, Kansas City Public Schools, Lee’s Summit, North Kansas City, Park Hill and Raytown — already are attached to the Junior College District.
According to research from Metropolitan Community College, the average market value for a home in the Liberty School District is $238,000.
The annual property tax on such a home will increase $96.23, or $8.02 per month, by becoming attached to the Junior College District.
The average home value in the Grain Valley R-V School District is $258,000, so the annual property tax increase there will be around $104.31 — or $8.69 per month.
The average home value in the Oak Grove R-VI School District is $240,000, so the annual property tax on an average home will go up $97.04 — or $8.09 per month.
Based on the current tax levy for the Junior College District, property owners in the five districts that rejected attachment will save $108 on average in annual property taxes by remaining out of district:
- The average home value in the Harrisonville R-IX School District is around $211,000, so annual property taxes would have gone up $85.31 — or $7.11 per month.
- The average home value in the Kearney R-I School District is around $300,000, so annual property taxes would have gone up $121.30 — or $10.11 per month.
- The average home value in the Platte County R-III School District is around $282,000, so annual property taxes would have gone up $114.02 — or $9.50 per month.
- The average home value in the Raymore-Peculiar R-II School District is around $266,000, so annual property taxes would have gone up $107.55 — or $8.96 per month.
- The average home value in the Smithville R-II School District is around $280,000, so annual property taxes would have gone up $113.21 — or $9.43 per month.
"This had never been done in this state," Beatty said. "If a community college in the past had gone for an attachment, it had to go through the school district. New legislation allowed for us to do that differently, but still nobody had ever gone for eight at one time. They usually go for one district at a time, so the fact that we got three — 38% of the communities that we invited essentially to be in-district took that invitation — we’re excited to have them."