Living in Brookside…and living with the Kansas City MO school district. It amazes me how Brookside homes have retained their value, how many people want to move into this neighborhood, despite the reputation of the KCMO school district.
As a real estate agent, the subject of schools often comes up with buyers. So many newly married couples move to Brookside and then once the kids get close to school age, the For Sale sign goes up and they pack up for Johnson County. Some of this is probably due to the houses itself: parents want more room to accommodate all the kid stuff, their playmates, they want a large yard and/or a finished basement. But over the past several years, there are alternatives to the local public school — the charter schools of University Academy and Academie Lafayette. When it comes time for high school..that’s a more difficult question.
Lincoln Prep has an excellent reputation so I recently toured the school to see for myself. The building is older, built in the 1930s. It’s located closer to the central city (2111 Woodlawn) than the Brookside area, but the grounds are neat and the building itself is attractive from the outside. Walking in the front door, you do have to pass through a metal detector.
Our tour guides were two students–very friendly and knowledgeable about the school. As we toured the building, we observed several classes, visited the cafeteria, the gym, the auditorium. The halls were quiet, students listening attentively in the classrooms. The student body is very diverse–many nations represented, some artsy kids with dyed hair and dreadlocks. No uniforms–even the vice principal said he wished they had a uniform policy–but there is a dress code. The kids don’t have a homeroom or study periods. It’s straight classes from 7:25am-2:40pm.
When I asked Joh Richard, Vice Principal, why he thought Lincoln Prep students did so much better than other KCMO high school kids he said it’s because the kids have to test to get into the school, and they have to maintain a certain grade point average. So these kids are more focused, more serious about their studies, and feel the competition and drive from their peers. Another interesting remark he made was that the teachers must assign homework at least three days a week–just a few years ago, homework was optional. Curiculum includes four years of math, english and science, plus at least one hundred service hours are required for graduation. Sports are offered, along with band, debate, ROTC and drama. There are currently four or five Teach for America teachers at the school, all replaced retiring faculty.
Overall, I was impressed with the school. Their reputation seems well deserved. It’s a tragedy of sorts that Southwest High in Brookside was on such a great path to be a college prep school before it was combined with Westport High–police report they are still called to the school on a regular basis. Not true at Lincoln. Why is it that the KCMO school district can only offer one academically excellent school? Residents want good public schools in their neighborhoods–they don’t want to have to drive 20 minutes to get to a ‘good’ public high school.
There is a good public high school option for Brookside residents…if you want diversity and a longer drive.
Mary, thank you for your kind words about Lincoln College Prep High School. Our two daughters are 1997 and 1999 graduates of Lincoln and 2001 and 2003 graduates of Creighton University in Omaha. One is now an oncology nurse and the other is an ESL teacher. My own affiliation with the KCMSD as an educator from the Tower Homes neighborhood was from 1972 to 1992. During the time of our daughters’ K-12 years within the school district, the court-mandated magnet school program was put in place, taking many elementary school students away from their nearest school to another school some distance away. I believed at the time, and still believe that in addition to offering the Lincoln College Prep choice, Southwest should also have been turned into a college science and math preparatory high school and Bingham middle school also should have had a strong emphasis in science and math as a feeder school for Southwest.