KC leaders advance pre-K tax vote without input from area superintendents

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The proposed pre-K sales tax vote for Kansas City, Missouri that was delayed last week, is back on the fast track.

At a meeting Wednesday at City Hall, business committee members voted to advance the proposed tax to the full City Council for a vote next week. The decision came despite the absence of all 15 superintendents who asked for the item to be removed from the November ballot so they could make some changes. 

The proposed-3/8-cent sales tax would generate an estimated $30 million annually to expand pre-K education programs in Kansas City. 

The superintendents want to change governing language to make sure private pre-K program do not receive any of the estimated $30 million the tax will raise. They also want more local control at the school level and a more streamlined process to award and distribute the money and the pre-K programs. 

Only parents community leaders and teachers were at Wednesday's meeting and everyone who testified supported the pre-K tax. City Council member Jolie Justice said she thought superintendents would attend but didn't want to wait any longer to move the measure forward.

Gayden Carruth, Executive Director of Cooperating School Districts of Greater Kansas City, represents the 15 school districts within Kansas City's boundaries. She explained that it's the beginning of the school year and districts superintendents had mandatory meetings and could not come to City Hall.

She said the school leaders still have until January to work with Kansas City and other stakeholders to change how the pre-K program is governed.

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