In just two days, the Kansas City Missouri School District (KCSD) will lose its accreditation due to substandard test scores over a long period of time. The loss of accreditation will cause a number of changes for the KCSD and surrounding districts.
State law says that students from an unaccredited school district can transfer for free to surrounding districts. For KCSD students these include districts in Cass, Jackson, Johnson, Lafayette, Platte, Clay and Ray Counties. Although many counties are included, the closest districts have the best potential for having to take in students even if it means overcrowding the classrooms.
The districts that are most likely to pick up transfer students are Hickman Mills, Center, Raytown, Independence, and North Kansas City. Parents get to choose which school they want their student/s to transfer to and transportation has to be provided free of charge. Two questions being fought over in the courts are 1. which district pays for the transportation of these students (Kansas City or the receiving district) 2. Who pays the receiving district’s tuition for the out of district students (Some receiving districts are requiring up front payment in full before accepting transfer KCSD students. KCSD is refusing to pay. The students and families are not required to pay anything.)
Another concern for KCSD families is who is going to take over the school district now that accreditation has been lost. There are different possibilities being talked about, but no decision has been made even though school will resume next week. A few of the different possibilities being discussed are 1. a state take-over 2. Mayor Sly James becoming the superintendent and the city council taking over as the school board 3. area school districts taking over different sections of the KC district. In the third scenario, the schools would still be KC schools and their test scores would be separate from the “controlling” district, but the “controlling” district would be in charge of curriculum, hiring teachers/staff, etc.
The loss of accreditation can cause difficulties for the students in the KCSD and those in surrounding districts taking in the transfer students. Any special education students that transfer may not immediately be put in special ed classes. This is because reviews of the incoming IEPs and evaluation reports must be done. There is a time frame that the district has to complete the transfer paperwork. Depending on how many special ed students are transferring in, this could keep special education teachers and process coordinators quite busy. The case managers still have to keep up with their regular duties and teaching as well as taking of the transfer paperwork and making a schedule for the new special ed students.
With the influx of students, it can take time to help them settle in and help the classes they are joining to become accustomed to the new students and bigger class size. For students who struggle with anxiety or behavior issues, this can be a very stressful and daunting idea. Teachers, administrators, and counselors could truly have their hands full for the next month or more. With MAP testing occurring at the end of March beginning of April there could be a decrease in test scores for these districts. Not necessarily caused by the inclusion of KC students, but because of all the surrounding chaos happening.
With so many uncertainties about the future of the KCSD and surrounding districts, it is almost certain that there will be some stressed out teachers and administrators from trying to make this an easy transition and give every student the education he/she deserves.