Kansas City, Mo. The Kansas City school board approved a plan Wednesday night to close nearly half the district’s schools in a desperate bid to avoid a potential bankruptcy.
The board voted 5-4 after parents and community leaders made pleas to spare the schools as the district seeks to erase a projected $50 million budget shortfall. The approved plan calls for shuttering 29 of 61 schools — a striking amount even as public school closures rise nationwide.
Under the plan, buildings will be shuttered before the next school year. Teachers at six other low-performing schools will be required to reapply for jobs, and the district will sell its downtown central office. About 700 of the district’s 3,000 jobs, including 285 teachers, also are expected to be cut.
Some parents called for Superintendent John Covington’s departure after the vote, shouting, “He has to go.”
Covington has spent the past month making the case to sometimes angry groups of parents and students that the closures are necessary. He declined to discuss the closures after the meeting but planned to talk at a news conference today.
Covington has stressed that the district’s buildings are only half-full as its population has plummeted amid political squabbling and chronically abysmal test scores. The district’s enrollment of fewer than 18,000 students is about half of what the schools had a decade ago.