Crossroads Academy, a downtown Kansas City charter school, on Thursday announced plans to open a second elementary school next fall.
The school, which boasts one of the most racially diverse student populations in the urban core, first opened in Kansas City’s central business district in 2012.
The school currently serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It was launched with the support of city officials and area business leaders who had been looking to back a school that would encourage young professionals to live and raise families in the revitalized downtown area.
“We could not be more excited,” said Sean O’Byrne, vice president of the Downtown Council business group. “Opening a second school makes all the sense in the world. It is a testament to the success of the school and the viability of the downtown.”
Crossroads began in a vacant 104-year-old office building at 1015 Central St. with 190 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Last year, it expanded into an adjacent office building renovated to accommodate the school. Enrollment in the 46,000-square-foot space increased to its current 349 students.
But when classes resumed this fall, Crossroads, with its 38 teachers and a total staff of 44, had a wait list of 100 students for whom the school did not have room, said Dean Johnson, school spokesman.
Last week, the University of Central Missouri, which sponsors the charter, approved opening a second Crossroads elementary charter.
No location for the second school has been secured. But Johnson said Crossroads is considering different building options within the greater downtown area with the goal to open by August 2016. It could accommodate about 186 students in kindergarten through third grade.
“The goal is to own a school building,” Johnson said. “This will depend on the support of a capital campaign.”
For the first one or two years of operation, the academy is also considering leasing space while it looks for a long-term site. However, remaining downtown is vital to the school’s education model.
“Teachers and students use all assets in the community,” Johnson said. For example, the Kansas City Public Library’s Central branch is the school’s library. Barney Allis Plaza is its playground, and the Folly Theater and Quality Hill Playhouse are where students host their performances.
“One of the strengths of our school is the kids have access to the rich culture of the city,” Johnson said. “It creates a setting for real-world, experiential learning. We want to replicate that with the second school.”
It’s one reason, he said, that Crossroads’ enrollment wait list keeps growing. A second reason is that “students are achieving significant academic success in this innovative environment,” Johnson said.
This year, the school earned nearly all of the 70 possible points it could receive on the Missouri Annual Performance Report. The reports, out this week, are a measure of overall performance and give a district or charter school points for each of several areas, including academics, college and career readiness, attendance and graduation rates.
State standardized tests weigh heavily in that performance report, and Crossroads students made significant gains and exceeded statewide averages for the percentage of students scoring at the top in English language arts and math, Johnson said.