Barber's memories might soon be all that's left of Thacher Elementary

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - As Kansas City, Mo., school district officials juggle plans to reopen some of its middle schools with the future of a few dozen closed buildings, one plan seems to be complicating the other. At least at one school.

District officials will meet with the community Thursday night to hash out more details of the middle school plan.

Northeast Middle School is on the list of possible schools to get a new lease on life. In the meantime, Thacher Elementary School sits on the same site. The beautiful century-old building now sits boarded up and has become the victim of vandalism and fire.

If Northeast ends up reopening, however, Thacher may be demolished.

On the adjacent block, the sounds of electric razors and conversations with friends fill Vento's Barber Shop. Joe Vento has been here for 56 years. His cash register from 1905 has been here even longer, singing a 'ca-ching' with each customer's transaction.

Those loyal customers are more like lifelong friends. Vento grew up around the corner and just up the street from Thacher. He's watched it fall into disrepair.

"When I come into work, I take a look over there," he said, pulling a lock of hair between two fingers and stopping to snip off the ends. "It is just sad because it used to be kids playing on the playground and now, it is just kind of dead, you know?"

Built in 1900, Thacher closed in 2009. 

"It's a beautiful school," Vento smiled sadly.

District officials say there is no way to repurpose each and every closed school. They started with 30 and say while four have been sold and one leased, finding a future for the others will be a long process.

They did originally list Thacher for sale. The only interest came with buying the entire site including Northeast Middle School and tearing Thacher down. Now that Northeast Middle School may have a future, talks have begun to possibly demolish Thacher as early as this summer.

"I was hoping it was one of the ones they would save," he said. "Its a bummer, too pretty of a building to tear down."

So now the boy who grew up around Thacher and stuck around, waits to see what happens next.

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