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Northeast community fills another KCPS Blueprint 2030 meeting

KCPS Blueprint 2030 input meeting
Posted at 9:38 PM, Nov 01, 2022

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Rebekah Wampler is an ESL teacher at Whittier Elementary, one of the 10 school buildings on the list for possible closure or repurposing by the Kansas City Public School district as part of its Blueprint 2030 plan.

"It would be super painful to see them shipped somewhere else," Wampler said at a meeting Tuesday night.

KSHB 41 has brought you to emotional meetings in the Central High School community, and on Tuesday, a similar scene played out in the Northeast.

Whittier and James Elementary, and Northeast High School are part of that list.

Groups were split up into breakout sessions to list out their concerns and sources of optimism.

Audience members mostly expressed concerns and worries to KCPS officials in the room at the Northeast Branch of the Kansas City Public Library.

"Let's be real here, we don't have bus drivers and we don't have buses? Where did this idea come from?" said Larry Cooper, a 2016 Northeast High graduate.

He's a board member of his school's alumni association, and shared with KSHB 41 a petition against closing the school.

"The median income in this area is between $20 to 30K, it's poverty," Cooper said. "How are these parents going to get to these events?"

A predominantly immigrant community and their advocates filled the room, as the possibility remains of moving students and families.

"I cannot imagine all of the families coming into interpretations and seeing them have to go into another spot," Wampler said as she fought back tears.

Families want the district to see current successes, before making a decision in December, like the district's victory of accreditation earlier this year.

"Whittier Elementary School — it's high performing," said Gregg Lombardi, the executive director of the Lykins Neighborhood Association. "It's got 93% capacity, it's almost full and it's doing that with 62% of its kids who don't speak English in a neighborhood that's one of the poorest in the city, why not reward that success?"

Dr. Jennifer Collier, interim superintendent at KCPS, continued to push for more community input.

"We have to do better about telling our story, and make sure everyone knows what it is that we're doing here," Collier said.

The next Blueprint 2030 meeting is on Thursday at James Elementary from 4 p.m to 5:30 p.m.