As a real estate agent, I am often asked about the public school districts in the metro area. It’s no secret that many KCMO families move to Kansas or another neighboring Missouri school district when their kids reach school age. A recent study by the Kauffman Foundation estimates that less than 10% of the approximately 6000 elementary school aged children living in zip codes 64112, 64113 and 64114 attend a public school. But that’s what Friends of Hale Cook are trying to change. Located at 7302 Pennsylvania, this non-profit group is trying to re-open Hale Cook as a neighborhood school managed by the KCMO district .
So will the school be ready for the 2013-2014 school year? Too early to say. Kansas City School Superintendent Steven Green and Mayor Sly James are supportive, and the next step is the feasibility study which will be taken to the school board in the fall. Friends of Hale Cook welcome all area residents to take the study–and it’s easy to do. Just go to the Hale Cook website and click on the link. It took me less than five minutes to complete.
Although operated by the KCMO school district, Hale Cook will feature focused and constant parent involvement with volunteers in every classroom. The advisory board will push to partner with the hiring of the principal and teachers. Even though the school is still in the planning stages, many teachers who live in the area have contacted the Hale Cook volunteers, expressing interest in working at the school.
In the meantime, Friends of Hale Cook are maintaining a very visible profile in the community. Yard signs are visible, there are regular meetings and events open to the public, and the group has a grant from the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce to grow food on the school grounds for the needy–drive by and see the garden!
Friends of Hale Cook is the best example of a group of parents committed to changing the reputation of the KCMO school district by bringing back this community school. It’s a true grassroots movement. So how will the school district respond? Will they support Hale Cook, cooperate with parents, push through entrenched bureaucracy to get the school open? This will be a test. The KCMO school board is always talking, talking, talking about ‘getting the community and business leaders involved’ to improve the schools. Here’s the opportunity to see if they mean what they say. Prove it, KCMO school board, by supporting Hale Cook. Embrace the advisory board, partner with the parents and volunteers. And please voice your opinion by taking part in the survey.