One School Closing, Another School Opens

I was sad to learn that Christ the King elementary school in Waldo is closing at the end of the school year.  Located at 85th and Wornall Road, this school has been an anchor for the neighborhood for almost 70 years. Student enrollment has steadily declined over the past few years and it is no longer financially possible to keep the school open.  Fewer than 100 students had enrolled for the 2013-2014 school year.

On a positive note, Hale Cook Elementary is pushing forward with its plans to open in August.  Although the first year the school will operate at Hartman Elementary, the Hale Cook building at 73rd and Pennsylvania will be used in the 2014-2015 school year.  Hale Cook is a public school, operated by the Kansas City MO school district. It is reopening after ten years not due to the efforts of the school district, but because of  community volunteers, lead by Brookside resident Ashley Hand.  Ashley and her group realize the importance of having a well managed and education focused school within the neighborhood to serve the families who live nearby.  This school will succeed because of strong parent involvement and support.  

According to the US Census, 77% of school age children in the 64112 and 64113 zip codes attend private schools.  This means their parents or guardians spend thousands of dollars each year on tuition.  Having another public elementary school option (besides Border Star) will encourage residents to stay in our area. Currently, many families move to Kansas (or pay for private school) because the KCMO public schools are not accredited.   

I don’t think any of the Christ the King school kids will be able to switch to Hale Cook–as Hale Cook is starting with kindergarten classes at first.  These parents will be scrambling to find a spot for their young ones next year; there are some options.  Christ the King school will be missed in Waldo–just as the opening of Hale Cook is welcome.

Hale Cook Open House-January 30, 2011

I attended the Hale Cook open house yesterday.  Even though my two girls are beyond this school, I’m still interested in the quest to re-open a ‘neighborhood’ school for Brookside/Waldo families.  About fifty people attended. 

Derek Richey of the KCMO School Board opened the remarks in the auditorium.  The school needs 300-350 applicants by March 31 to open in the fall–currently there are 20-25 applications submitted. 

Two local Brookside moms gave comments about having children who went through the KCMO schools and graduated from Lincoln Prep Academy.  Patty Mansur and Melissa Ashcraft remarked ‘any school situation has challenges’  and ‘the key is to be involved’.  There are ‘a lot of community messages that tell you it’s risky and not a good decision’ to have your child in the KCMO public schools.  They are both happy with the education their kids had as part of a minority  in the schools–they welcomed the diversity. 

Dr Covington, KCMO School Superintendent, answered one question from the audience (there were only two questions), talking about the pay grade of teachers.  He would like to see a significant jump in pay after 5 years of teaching, instead of the pay jump at 15-20 years, so that the good, eager, younger teachers are rewarded faster for their efforts.  Sounds good–how will he make that happen?  Where will he find the money?

Clearly there is a lot of interest in re-opening this school and I hope there are enough applicants for Fall 2011 classes.  As stated in the program handout, the ‘success and sustainability of Hale Cook will be directly tied to our level of ownership and support and the level to which our parents enroll their children’.  The success of Hale Cook will also depend on how well the school district officials and the local parent group work together. Mr. Richey says Hale Cook has the ‘full support of the administration’.  That’s a good start. 

Visit the Hale Cook website and thanks for reading my blog!  You can reach me directly at

New Neighborhood School? Hale Cook Elementary

It’s well-known that the Kansas City Missouri school district suffers from a poor reputation.  As a real estate agent, I am often asked, ‘what about the schools?’. Answering that one in a diplomatic yet informative way can be a challenge.  I consistently tour houses for sale where the owners want to move to enroll their children in a Kansas school district.  Still, there are options for Brookside/Waldo families…and a group of residents is trying to add another one.

Hale Cook Elementary, at 7302 Pennsylvania, is trying to re-open in the fall of 2011 as a neighborhood school.  It would be operated by the Kansas City MO public school system, with heavy parental involvement.  I believe 300 students need to sign up before the school district will proceed with the details of re-opening the building.  This is GREAT news!

The school would have a pre-K tuition based program, and the elementary classes would run through grade 6.  Boundaries for  the school enrollment: State Line to Holmes, 75th to Brush Creek.  No bussing for these students, but hopefully before and after-school programs, plus art,  music and foreign language classes.  What is so different about Hale Cook is it’s  a community based movement to re-open the school, not a school district directive.  Strong parental input and participation will be expected and required, and these parents will have a say in faculty selection and budget.  Sounds like a promising formula for success.                                                    

Hale Cook Elementary, 7302 Pennsylvania

As a personal interest, I follow education issues closely. My daughter wants to be a teacher, and at one time, I did as well.  In an urban school environment, it’s often the teachers that get the blame for a poor performing student. The pay for performance reform has some merit. I won’t  get into the tenure argument here.  But the emphasis on learning and importance of a good education must come first from the home environment–and that means parents (or guardians) who take an active interest in the child’s education.  By having these local parents band together and actually do something about re-opening a neighborhood school shows the community, and the KCMO school district, that change can happen when parents get involved.  Wouldn’t it be nice if this initiative was coming from the KCMO school district?  Sure.  But I’ll bet you things will move along much faster precisely because the active residents want to make it happen. The big question?  How much of a help — or a hinderance–will the school district be?

Everyone is invited to the Open House at Hale Cook on  Sunday, January 30 from 3-5pm. Stop by, learn more, tour the building,  get involved if you like.  This is the beginning of a story that could provide another option for children in the Brookside/Waldo area.