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Tensions run high at meeting discussing Kansas City Public Schools' Blueprint 2030 plan

KCPS Meeting
Posted at 9:40 PM, Oct 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-17 23:25:09-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Emotions reached a boiling point at a meeting Monday to discuss Kansas City Public Schools' Blueprint 2030 plan.

"Don't play games with the baby boomers and everybody else in this room," one attendee yelled to the front of the room at the Southeast Community Center Monday night.

The meeting turned into a town-hall style exchange with Kansas City Public Schools leaders.

"What is our plan for our kids going forward if we do nothing?" said Dr. Jennifer Collier, interim superintendent at KCPS.

The proposed plan, which would close or repurpose 10 schools in the district, is not final, but has the community's attention.

This includes parents whose children attend Wheatley Elementary, one of the buildings on that list.

"It's gonna be a transition. It's gonna be a good transition for them, it's going to be a transition for the parents, for us," said Ron Haynes, who was picking up his kids from Wheatley on Monday.

That proposed transition means a lot of movement.

"You got people who can walk — that won't happen out there, they'll take the buses," said Julius Smith, a crossing guard at Wheatley. "You have to pay for buses, don't you?"

One of the key schools on the list is Central High School, and if it does close, those students would come to Southeast High.

The schools are only separated by 4.5 miles, but the idea of going a longer distance at all didn't sit well with many at Monday's meeting.

"We're not attached to a building, we're attached to our community," Paul Cosby said at the meeting.

Cosby knows what's at stake, as he was bused to Southwest High when Manual High School closed in 1977.

"I never went to Central, but I know how these kids are going to feel when they're going through this transition if it happens," Cosby said.

Pat Clarke, who also attended the meeting, tried to diffuse the emotions in the meeting.

"Let them say what they have to say, and then we'll go from there," he said.

He says he wants to hear the plan, but has a central fear.

"If Central was to close down, again, it would hurt our community," he said. "We're talking about a major pain, because you're busing inner city kids south to a school that more than likely, they won't be welcome."

There will be more meetings, open to a caring and concerned public.

"I care about the kids, I care about Kansas City, I care about the school district," Cosby said.