A push to reopen Southwest High School in Brookside has pinnacled to an official movement called ‘Uniting At Southwest.’
The website just launched last week.
Not only do organizers feel confident due to the monetary backing from several local foundations, but there are already nearly 600 parents who have signed the survey, proclaiming they would like to see their kids join the school if it is re-opened.
"I want to stay in Kansas City Missouri. And a lot of my friends and neighbors want to stay in Kansas City Missouri,” said John Couture, a parent who lives in Waldo and a volunteer member on the advisory committee for Uniting At Southwest. "We've had lots of issues with mistrust in our city. But now I think people are looking to come together for new solutions, including education."
Open since 1925, Kansas City Public Schools closed Southwest High School last year , leaving the area without a public high school. So what would be different? Uniting At Southwest claims they would teach in a new, innovative format called ‘project based learning,’ describing as what would be the “high school of the future.”
"It gives kids across all interests and abilities the ability to work together and problem solve, just as they would in a regular work place,” said Couture. - "Uniting At Southwest is trying to bring a new way for kids to learn and new opportunities for a partnership for Kansas City that hasn't existed here before."
Uniting At Southwest is inviting any parent in the KCPS district who would be open to the idea to sign their survey. As to whether or not the school would be a part of KCPS or its own charter, or when the school would open, those are all big questions that remain to be answered. No matter the result, it appears Uniting At Southwest may need to do more work before KCPS officially joins the effort.
41 Action News received the following statement from Dr. Mark Bedell, superintendent of KCPS:
“KCPS is concentrating on giving the best education possible to the students we currently serve. We are currently working with a steering committee to explore options on a South Middle School. We heard from the KCPS community in multiple meetings that a middle school in the area south of Brush Creek is a priority for them.”
Couture is hoping that hundreds of more signatures will prove to KCPS there is a need to reopen Southwest as an innovative, new high school.
"We all believe in public education in Kansas City. And we think we just need to get creative in how we do that nowadays,” he said. "There's a lot of people in the city who really want to see this work and they're willing to put their foundations out there to pledge to work with us and the school district to make this happen for everybody."
Josh Helmuth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org