Few details about ambitious K.C. school-closing plan

March 12, 2010

WASHINGTONCOLUMBUS, Ohio KANSAS CITY, Mo. LOS — - Kansas City school officials promised Thursday to shut down nearly half the district's schools by the start of classes in the fall without offering details of how they intend to implement the complicated plan in just a matter of months. The drastic project also calls for cutting hundreds of jobs and shuffling thousands of students. Officials say the changes are needed to keep the district from using up what little is left of the $2 billion it received as part of a groundbreaking desegregation case. On Wednesday night, the school board narrowly approved the plan that calls for closing 29 of 61 facilities: 26 traditional schools and three leased buildings that house early childhood programs. It also eliminates about 700 of 3,000 jobs and requires moving students from the shuttered buildings to other schools. The district's enrollment of fewer than 18,000 students is about half of what the schools had a decade ago, with many students leaving for publicly funded charter schools, private and parochial schools and the suburbs. Superintendent John Covington has said the district would be bankrupt in 18 months without the cuts.

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