Vote on Westport High School sale is delayed two weeks

05/23/2014 6:34 PM

06/03/2014 10:17 AM

The future of Westport High School will remain in limbo at least until June 11.

The sometimes stormy debate around the potential sale of the vacant midtown school building had been scheduled to return for a vote at the Kansas City school board’s Wednesday meeting.

A concern arose this week that board members and the community need to be sure they “understand what we are voting on,” board president Jon Hile told The Star on Friday.

The district administration, through its repurposing process, previously had recommended that the board approve selling Westport to Foutch Brothers Real Estate.

The developer has proposed a multiuse plan giving community access to many of the former school’s sports and entertainment amenities, while reserving much of the building for use as a school.

Foutch has been in partnership with the popular Academie Lafayette charter school, which is considering Westport as a site for an international high school. Academie Lafayette wants to open a new school in the fall of 2015.

One aspect of the proposed sale that needs to be understood, Hile said, is that the sale would be to Foutch Brothers, and the proposed partnership between Foutch and Academie Lafayette is the developer’s arrangement and not required in the proposed sale agreement.

“We want to make sure we make an informed choice, and we want to make sure we are transparent,” Hile said.

Steve Foutch said the partnership with Academie Lafayette is continuing as planned, except that the ability to open a school in 2015 is all but lost. The developer still needs to secure tax credits — a time-consuming process that can’t begin until a sale is completed.

Academie Lafayette board president David Cozad said the charter school is continuing to work with Kansas City Public Schools in sorting out possibilities.

“We are in constructive discussions with KCPS,” Cozad said in an email to The Star, “and remain intent on opening a high school by 2015 if possible.”

To reach Joe Robertson, call 816-234-4789 or send email to jrobertson@kcstar.com.

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