Highlights/Results from the KCKPS Literary Festival
KCKPS Kidzone Director Daryel Garrison Receives 2017 Whitney M. Young Jr. Award
New KCKPS Video Highlights District’s Outstanding Features
KCKPS Officer Orlando Singleton Receives 2017 Consensus Civility Award
Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools Board of Education - Election Results
Coronado Middle School's Dress for Success Day
Coronado Middle School's Dress for Success Day

KCKPS Responds to Release from Governor’s Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 31, 2015

Contact: David Smith, Chief of Staff, (913) 279-2242

On Sunday, the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools issued the following statement, in response to a press release issued by Governor Sam Brownback’s office on May 30, 2015:

It is disappointing that a spokesperson for Governor Sam Brownback, Deputy Communications Director Melika Willoughby, would issue a press release that contains erroneous and irrelevant information, in an attempt to mislead the public concerning the reality of public school funding in Kansas City, Kansas. While the release talks about “…how money gets to our schools…” it presents funding amounts that are completely unrelated to money that could actually be used to fund activities in schools in Kansas City. The obvious implication is that the two are connected, and they are not.

First, the release makes an error in logic, in describing the 2014/15 school year as “the first year of the block grant.” Funding for the 2014/15 school year was finalized in May, 2014. The Block Grant legislation was signed by Governor Brownback in March, 2015, a full 10 months after funding decisions for 2014/15 were made. By describing 2014/15 as the first year of the Block Grants, Ms. Willoughby is attempting to give the Block Grants credit for decisions that were made 10 months before the Block Grants became law. This amounts to $12.9 million that Ms. Willoughby is erroneously giving the block grants credit for.

Next, the release conflates state funding to districts with money available to the district to educate children, as if those two are the same thing. They are not. In May, 2014, the Kansas legislature put additional money (see the paragraph above) into the school finance formula, in response to the Gannon v. State of Kansas school funding lawsuit, in which the court found that the state was not providing equitable funding for public schools in Kansas. The state was required to reinstate funding to poor school districts that it was legally obligated to provide, but had not been providing for several years. (To make up for the state’s lack of funding, local districts were forced to levy additional taxes on their taxpayers. All of the additional funding from the state that came to KCK was returned to the taxpayers, as was required by state law. Thus, there was no additional money available for schools because of those increases.)

Next, the release implies that an additional $3.75 million per year (or $7.5 million over the life of the Block Grants) that the state is spending on the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS) is money that the district can spend on schools. In fact, this is not money that is available to the district to spend. It is temporarily (a matter of minutes) routed through district accounts, so that the state can claim that it is state funding to the district, but it is not available for the district to spend, so it can hardly be considered an increase. (It is also important to understand that the money is being added now because the state had not been meeting its obligation to fund the pension system for public employees in previous years. Ms. Willoughby is attempting to give the state credit for meeting an obligation it has had on the books for years, and which it has unfairly forced local taxpayers to carry.)

Those two errors in the release from the Governor’s office add up to $20.4 million, and when you add to this the .4% reduction to current funding that the Blocks grants take from districts to fund an “Extraordinary Needs” fund, the $2 million loss that is referred to in the release is accurate and correct.

What is not mentioned in the release is that the Block Grants do not provide any additional funding for increases in costs, such as insurance, utilities, etc., or even more significantly, for increases in student population. KCKPS has average an increase of 500 students each year for the past five years. KCKPS will not receive any additional funds to serve those students, which would be an additional loss of over $4 million over the life of the Block Grants.

Dale Dennis, Deputy Superintendent of the Kansas Department of Education, told the three-judge panel in the Shawnee District Court on May 8, 2015, under oath, that “…no district in Kansas is receiving an increase in funding because of the block grants.” That is the truth about education funding in Kansas.

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Melissa Fears • Communications Office
2010 N. 59th Street • Kansas City, KS 66104 • 913-279-2242

Ribbon Cutting Set for Hazel Grove Elementary School

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Tammy Dodderidge, Communications Manager, (913) 279-2225

A ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly rebuilt Hazel Grove Elementary School will take place Tuesday, October 8 at 4:30 p.m. The school is located at 2401 N. 67th St.

Board of Education members and administrators from the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools will be on hand to address staff, students and the community at the event. Tours of the building will be available and refreshments will be served. The regular Board of Education meeting will follow the ceremony at 5:30 p.m.

The new two-story Hazel Grove Elementary opened this school year. The building was designed to carry forth the history of the former building and site. The site where the school stands was a former hazelnut grove, and thus the name. The new building's façade is imbedded with hazelnut trees, and the one remaining living tree on the grounds was preserved.

The total square footage of the new building is 70,394 and it can accommodate up to 550 students. It has four classrooms at each grade level and three swing classrooms to accommodate class size shifts. Each classroom can accommodate between 23 and 28 students and has its own sink and ample storage. Each has wireless access points, Apple TV and a classroom iPad for teachers and students for instructional use. The kindergarten classrooms include a restroom.

Capital outlay funds were used for the construction of the building. (These are funds which are designated to be used for existing facilities, improvement of grounds, construction of facilities, additions to facilities, remodeling of facilities, or for the purchase or lease of equipment.)

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Melissa Fears • Communications Office
2010 N. 59th Street • Kansas City, KS 66104 • 913-279-2242

KCKPS Launches School Funding Crisis Information Line

June 20, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Tammy Dodderidge, communications manager, (913) 279-2225

To keep parents, students, staff and community members informed about the current school funding crisis before the Kansas Legislature, the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools has launched a School Funding Crisis Information Line. The phone line will continue to provide updated information, in both English and Spanish, to help Kansans understand the issues at hand and give them tips about how they can get involved.

The phone number is (913) 627-2900.

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Melissa Fears • Communications Office
2010 N. 59th Street • Kansas City, KS 66104 • 913-279-2242

Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools to Implement Significant Budget Cuts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 28, 2015

Contact: David Smith, Chief of Staff, (913) 279-2242

The Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools (KCKPS) is implementing significant budget cuts for the 2015-16 school year, in response to reductions in state funding and increases in certain fixed costs. These costs will have impacts across the system, with some staff being laid off, furlough days required for many employees, and major cuts to all department budgets.

“We are in a very difficult position with our budget,” said Chief Financial Officer Dr. Kelli Mather, “and we are at a point where we have to act in order to be ready for the next school year. These cuts will create real pain, but we have worked hard to make them in a way that will still allow us to reach our goal of graduating each student prepared for college and careers.”

The cuts include the elimination of a position on the Superintendent’s leadership team, the Chief of Human Resources position.

“It is important for staff and the community to know that, when cuts have to be made, they start at the top,” said Dr. Cynthia Lane, superintendent of KCKPS. “We have cut more than $50 million in the past seven years, and there is no longer any fat left to be cut. We are forced to make cuts to things that really matter to our work.”

In addition to the Chief of Human Resources position, the district is eliminating the position of assessment manager, a position that previously provided support to schools in implementing local and state assessments, and in interpreting and using the results to drive improvement. This change will result in the reduction of 30 positions across the district.

“This is a difficult position to eliminate,” said Dr. Lane. “We put it in place in order to free principals and teacher leaders to focus on improving classroom instruction. We will need to work hard to make sure that our building leaders maintain their focus on strengthening teaching and learning.”

Additional cuts will include four furlough days for all year-round employees, along with a reduction in the number of contract days for certain staff, including teacher leaders. Non-personnel related cuts include a reduction of $900,000 in funding for alternative services, a 10% cut to all school and department budgets, a reduction of $350,000 in textbook purchases, and reduced spending on technology, transportation, professional development, supplies and summer school, among other things.

The budget cuts are coming after the Kansas legislature passed, and Governor Brownback signed Senate Bill 7, a Block Grant bill which decreases the amount of state funding the district will receive over the next two fiscal years. These reductions are on top of cuts school districts across the state have seen over the past seven years, which have created a school funding system that a three-judge panel in Shawnee District Court has declared unconstitutional. KCKPS is one of the lead plaintiffs in that lawsuit, Gannon v. State of Kansas.

Cuts are also necessary in order to provide resources to support important district initiatives, according to Dr. Lane. “We are working hard to prepare each student for college and careers,” said Dr. Lane, “and in order to do this, they must have access to college classes and certificate programs, some of which are not supported by state funds. We have made the commitment to provide our students with the support they need to be ready for their future, and we cannot go back on that commitment.”

In addition, the district is facing increases in certain fixed costs, including health insurance, which will rise by approximately $2.2 million, and some necessary upgrades to technology infrastructure. And the decreases in state funding will be magnified because the district will no longer be receiving additional funding to serve new students. The district has grown by an average of 500 students over each of the past five years. Before Senate Bill 7, the district would have expected to receive an additional $1.4 million in state aid to educate those students, along with additional funds for special needs, such as poverty and students who need to learn English.

And with the budget situation in Topeka far from settled, additional reductions in school funding might force the district to make more cuts.

“The state is failing in its constitutional obligation to provide a suitable education for all students,” said Dr. Lane. “The decisions being made in Topeka will impact the lives of children in Kansas for generations to come. I pray that legislators will decide to do the right thing, and provide sufficient support for public schools across the state of Kansas.” 

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Melissa Fears • Communications Office
2010 N. 59th Street • Kansas City, KS 66104 • 913-279-2242

PTA to Honor Former KCKPS Superintendents at 100th Anniversary Celebration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Judi Tucci, KCK Council of PTA, (913) 621-1522

Kansas PTA is 100 years old! To commemorate the anniversary, the KCK Council of PTA is planning a special reception and dinner to honor school principals and former superintendents of the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools.

The event will take place on Monday, April 14 at the KCKPS Central Office and Training Center. There will be a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 6 p.m.

Former superintendents Dr. Ray Daniels and Dr. O.L. Plucker will be a part of the program. Current Superintendent Dr. Cynthia Lane and Board of Education President Dr. Evelyn Hill will extend greetings. Entertainment will be provided by the KCK Harp Ensemble and Wyandotte High School drama students.

For more information, contact Judi Tucci, (913) 621-1522.

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Melissa Fears • Communications Office
2010 N. 59th Street • Kansas City, KS 66104 • 913-279-2242