KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Public Schools are pushing for flexible school hours.
KCPS Superintendent Dr. Mark Bedell said students should be able to come to school at various times of the day according to their schedule, to meet their needs.
Bedell said the goal is retention.
“We serve a very diverse school district and we have a responsibility that all of them can get an education in a barrier-free environment,” Bedell said.
Bedell said social justice will continue to be at the forefront of everything the district does and they’ll focus on socioeconomic and racial inequities and how that change may start with school schedules.
“Not everyone is a cookie-cutter, [or] fits into a mold,” Peggy Everist, a KCPS teacher said. “The pandemic taught us students have different needs at different times.”
District leaders say learning through a pandemic proved it can be done, so they want to reimagine the schedule while focusing on older students.
Bedell says he wants to experiment with an 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. schedule.
“We should be offering a flexible schedule where students can work 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. or come into school 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.," he said. "Maybe they are coming in a window from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. We also know that we are a 100% free and reduced lunch and that many of our kids don’t have access to internships at the end of the school day because they have to get home and help."
Jamekia Kendrix, a KCPS parent, says she’s focused on an equitable education.
“You might be missing out on class and not able to catch up because you had these other responsibilities, so allowing us to be flexible would really help,” she said.
That may also look like hybrid schedules online and in person.
“It’s no longer meeting the needs of students, particularly students in urban school systems,” Dr. Jennifer Collier, KCPS Deputy Superintendent, said. “If education is for our students, it is incumbent upon us that we provide an educational system that is actually designed for them and that meets their needs. That is what we are hoping to do, to move away from traditional, maybe a norm that we are comfortable with as adults and do something actually for kids.”
KCPS says they will implement the schedule change by 2030, but have legislative hoops to jump through, including how they’ll secure funding.
District leaders will present some of their plans on Jan. 26. at a board meeting.