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Mayor convenes private meeting on Kansas City school district plans

Updated: 2014-02-23T23:54:53Z

By MIKE HENDRICKS

The Kansas City Star

Like a boisterous public hearing last week, a private meeting among a small group of community leaders similarly yielded no consensus on what to do about the unaccredited Kansas City Public Schools, Mayor Sly James said.

But James, who convened the daylong summit Saturday at Bartle Hall, said it was a good discussion that could help shape the final decision of state education officials.

“It was a very long day, productive, lot of divergent views, a very diverse group of people,” James said as he left the gathering of about 20 participants. “We had broad-ranging discussions about the plans. Tried to consider the things that we wanted to pass onto (the state) to consider, and we’re still formulating those ideas.”

The aim in the next few days, he said, is to sort through all of the comments and send them onto the state’s K-12 education department by the end of this week.

Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro is collecting public comments on several proposals for how the state should intervene in poor-performing districts in Kansas City and elsewhere.

Among the possibilities is a state takeover.

Nicastro hopes to recommend a strategy to the state board by Feb. 18.

Among those invited to Saturday’s event were state legislators, school district officials and representatives of various foundations, activist groups and the teacher’s union.

Several leaving the closed-door meeting declined to comment. James had asked that the conversation be confidential, going so far as to ban recording devices.

A followup meeting is planned, he said.

To reach Mike Hendricks, call 816-234-4738 or send email to mhendricks@kcstar.com.

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