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As KCPS begins pitching bond proposal to community, parent says it’s much needed

Kasi Darnell
Posted at 9:10 PM, May 21, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There's a major effort to upgrade Kansas City Public Schools facilities in the urban core, the largest in decades.

On Tuesday, KCPS intended to host a meeting to discuss bond measures it's proposing to help fund the upgrades.

The meeting, which was postponed due to a power outage, aimed to have parents and taxpayers give their input and ask questions about the issue.

Despite the meeting being postponed, KSHB 41's Megan Abundis spoke with a KCPS parent who believes securing the funding is necessary.

"For me, I think it’s really important," said Kasi Darnell, a KCPS parent. "It seems to me Kansas City has this school infrastructure that needs a lot of support right now."

Darnell is raising her two boys in Midtown KCMO, both of whom are growing up through the KCPS school system.

Her priority is to see safe buildings in a healthy environment.

"Immediately, my mind goes to updating buildings," she said. "For us, last year with my kids going to Longfellow and experiencing that scary incident with the carbon monoxide poisoning, that was a huge eye-opener that some of the buildings might not be safe for our kids to be in."

In a video message, KCPS Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Collier spoke on the importance of upgrading facilities.

"Our facilities do not reflect the remarkable efforts of our staff and students," Collier said in the video message.

Collier says the average school is 60 years old, with the last major voter-funded improvements coming in 1967.

The district says the lack of investment has resulted in a backlog of repairs exceeding $650 million.

"That is a huge number, and it's scary cause what are those things? Are there safety issues?" Darnell said.

Collier spoke about just some of the upgrades that are needed.

"Outdated wiring plumbing roofs and HVAC systems," Collier said in the video message.

Darnell said her children have felt the impact of the outdated infrastructure in KCPS buildings.

“Making sure they can go to school outside when it’s hot outside," she said. "Some of the buildings get extremely hot, and being in school is important."

So what is the district's solution? A 10-year capital funding plan.

The plan, made from community input, will prioritize repairs and upgrades.

The district said funding will come from various sources, including bonds, donations, and federal grants.

They say two bonds are on the horizon:

  • a certificate of participation (COP) bond will be issued in fall 2024
  • a general obligation (GO) bond requiring voter approval in April 2025

"Did you know KCPS is the only Missouri school district in the region without voter-approved funding for maintenance for our new buildings, technology, and security upgrades?" Collier said in the video message.
Darnell wants to know what would happen to her son’s schools if a bond weren’t passed.

“When most people think about school safety, they think about is there going to be a school shooting, not is the building going to crumble when the wind blows, or is there going to be a poisonous gas leak," she said. “These are our kids; these are people going to be running the show; why wouldn't we invest what we can into them to make sure they are getting a good quality education in a safe environment?"

KCPS said Tuesday's meeting will be rescheduled, and an effort over the next year to answer questions and get feedback is underway.

It's not clear how much the district could be asking taxpayers to fund — they say they’ll work that out with feedback.