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Group hopeful new charter school will help turn around Jazz District

Posted: 4:27 PM, Jul 12, 2016
Updated: 2016-07-12 21:53:01Z

STEM is out and STEAM is in. This new method of teaching adds art to the already popular science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum schools in Kansas City already embrace.

“It brings music, and dance and really helps to develop the whole child by really allowing kids to explore the arts for families that don't have the resources to do that outside of the home,” explained Robin Henderson, the principal of Kansas City Neighborhood Academy .

Kansas City Neighborhood Academy is a new charter school that, for the first time ever, is actually part of the Kansas City Public School system. All eyes are on the school for that reason, and because it could be a turning point for neighborhood revitalization.

“If we want to really talk about equity and we want to make sure we are proving an equitable scenario for our kids in terms of learning, in terms of the communities they live in, in terms of the resources available, then it's imperative of our City Council, our mayor, the school system, our businesses to make sure we are making these investments into our communities,” said Dr. Mark Bedell, the superintendent of Kansas City Public Schools.

Bedell said the investment is two-fold, both in the lives of young learners and the area east of Troost. For years, the neighborhoods that dot the east side of Kansas City have struggled to attract homeowners, businesses and events. To help with area revitalization, the City Council is looking at pumping millions of dollars into the historic 18th and Vine District.

“If this really works well, this becomes something that can be replicated across schools within our school system,” said Bedell.

And within other neighborhoods within Kansas City's urban core.

The community is already investing in helping KCNA succeed. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation gave the school a $1 million grant. Meanwhile, the Hall Family Foundation gave the school a $600,000 grant.

Pre-K through second-grade students will begin attending the school on Aug. 2. Additional grade levels will be added in succeeding years and the school will ultimately educate pre-K through sixth-graders.

There are still some spaces available for the 2016-2017 school year. Parents can submit applications for their children online or in-person at the school ( 24th and Vine ).

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Terra Hall can be reached at terra.hall@kshb.com .

You can also follow her on Twitter .

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