In three weeks about 220 children will help give new life to an adult dream of restoring Kansas City’s urban core.
They will be 3- and 4-year-old preschoolers, kindergarteners and first- and second-graders entering the new Kansas City Neighborhood Academy, 1619 E. 24th Terrace.
The academy in the old Wendell Phillips Elementary School building is a new charter school that Kansas City Public Schools is sponsoring in partnership with the Urban Neighborhood Initiative.
Opening the school on Aug. 2 is part of the Urban Neighborhood Initiative, which in turn makes up an important component of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Big 5 projects announced in 2011.
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The original goal had been to partner with 10 neighborhood groups and others to revitalize a long-neglected part of the urban core. That includes improving the health, safety and education for current and future residents.
A $1 million grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and $600,000 from the Hall Family Foundation will be used for instructional support at the academy. That should help ensure that students receive a good education.
Some of the children have been in Kansas City district schools; others have been attracted by the new charter, academy Principal Robin Henderson said at a Tuesday news conference.
Preschool enrollment already is at capacity with 40 children. The other grades are 75 percent full. Each year an additional grade will be added, topping out at sixth grade. The curriculum will be modeled after the Charles R. Drew Charter School in Atlanta, focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Mark T. Bedell said at the news conference that the school was an opportunity to “leverage resources to create a high quality education for students.”
The district needs to do more collaborations with the business community, civic and neighborhood groups and other charter schools. The ultimate goal is to ensure that students in every school in Kansas City receive an exceptional education that will best prepare them for college and careers.