Midtown Community School Initiative looks for supporters

Midtown parent Kristin Littrell asked those at a meeting Saturday to envision the kind of schools they would like to create for Midtown children.

Organizers of a new education initiative in Midtown say there are a lot of parents who want to create new options for their children.

Speaking at a kickoff meeting of the effort on Saturday, Andrew Johnson said there is a critical mass of young families in Midtown right now. (The group defines Midtown as the area between Union Station and Brush Creek, State Line to Highway 71.)

“On my block in South Hyde Park, there are six families with school age kids and they all go to different schools,” he said.

“People are investing in Midtown and want to stay here,” Johnson said. But schools, he added, are the missing piece in creating a viable Midtown.

Instead of moving out of Midtown when children reach school age, he asked “What if we directed all of our energy into creating neighborhood schools?”

Midtown Community School Initiative founders Andrew Johnson, Jacob Littrell, Kristin Littrell and Jessie Rosell.

The organizers laid out a picture of the current decisions facing parents of young children: a Kansas City school system that is currently unaccredited; increasingly competitive charter schools; and expensive private schools.

Kristin Littrell, another organizer, told the group the initiative founders have started to image the type of school they would like to see for their children. It would be walkable or bikable, centrally located, as diverse as Midtown, and an anchor for businesses and neighborhoods. It would also have a good principal, academic excellence, parental support and cultural partnerships with community institutions.

The group suggested several options for creating the type of school they envision: invest in and improve an existing school district school; create a new charter school with Midtown boundaries; partner with a current charter school or adopt one that is struggling; or follow the “Hale Cook model” and ask the district to reopen a school to serve the Midtown area.

City councilman Jim Glover made no secret of his delight that parents are organizing to push for quality Midtown schools.

I’m very excited about this. I have lived in Midtown since 1973 and I will go to bed excited tonight,” he told the parents.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Midtown Community School Initiative organizers said they would be incorporating as a nonprofit organization. They said the timeframe for getting a school opened could be as early as next fall. They’re asking the community to complete a survey about preferences for the various options and they say they will pick the one or two that have the most support. They also encourage all interested parents and community members to get involved in the effort.


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