The 114-year-old Thacher School, marked for demolition, has been spared by the Kansas City school board — at least for six months.
The administration had recommended that the vacant, fire-damaged school at Independence and Quincy avenues be razed to open more room for outdoor programming and parking for a remodeled Northeast Middle School that will open in August.
But enough board members were swayed by impassioned pleas from some residents in the Northeast community to give the save-Thacher movement time to seek out reuse ideas and find a developer.
“How dare you?” neighborhood leader Bryan Stalder challenged board members before the vote. Board members serve limited terms, he said, “but you make decisions that impact our community forever.”
By letting Thacher stand, the district will not be able to make some of the increases in athletic field space that middle schools programming director Cynthia Johnson said are important in developing the “emotional, academic and physical needs” of “the whole child.”
The board voted 5-3 to delay a decision on Thacher for six months.
Saving Thacher still has hurdles ahead. No developers have expressed any interest in the Thacher site since the district launched its process for repurposing closed district buildings three years ago, said Shannon Jaax, head of the repurposing office.
The district also has reservations, she said, about considering private or commercial uses of property that will be sitting at the edge of a school yard.
The district will open Northeast Middle, but it will have to make adjustments for now, Superintendent Steve Green said.
“It’s part of the process of engaging the community,” he said. “We will go forward.”