You’ve probably seen these yard signs popping up about Uniting at Southwest. What’s the story? A parent-led proposal is underway to reopen the unused Southwest High School as a project-based, public high school with a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) program by 2019.
At one time, Southwest was one of the most well regarded and respected high schools in the Kansas City public school system. The school closed in 2016, and KCPS has no plans to sell or lease it. Uniting at Southwest has the support of hundreds of local residents, former students and prospective SW school families who want to see the school reopened with this highly desirable type of curriculum. Parents have signed up over 1000 potential students via the Support Survey at the website.
The organizers behind Uniting at Southwest have funding behind them as well: several of Kansas City’s largest foundations, including Bloch and Stowers, have pledged support for the planning and renovations needed to reopen. They envision a neighborhood high school that would offer another school choice to nearby Brookside and Waldo residents, and be open to students living within the KCPS footprint. Other schools with the STEAM program have been very successful, and organizers cite High Tech High in San Diego and P-Tech in Brooklyn as models.
Local parent and enthusiastic supporter John Couture, owner of the Bier Station, says: “We have an opportunity to all come together–charter, parochial and district folks, to create something truly spectacular for our kids. It would be KC’s first project based high school. In addition to a rigorous education, these programs provide students with the skills they’ll need to thrive in the modern economy–things like innovation, collaboration and grit”.
The next steps for Uniting at Southwest include building even more city-wide community support, and then (hopefully) working with KC Public Schools to make the vision a reality. For more information on Uniting at Southwest, please visit their website. There is also a quick survey on the site that you can complete—they welcome your support and input whether you have children or not. You are also welcome to stop by Bier Station tomorrow night (4/19/2017) between 5-9pm, 120 E Gregory, to meet local supporters and learn more details.
As a local real estate agent and Brookside resident, I could write another blog entirely devoted to the importance of local schools on home values and for relocating families. Providing nearby, neighborhood K-12 public schools that are diverse and high quality will be a huge benefit for our area. Reopening Southwest as a STEAM school, operated as an autonomous program under the KCPS umbrella, would be extremely beneficial for Brookside and Waldo and Kansas City in general. Please visit the Uniting at Southwest website and share your comments!