State, local education officials to hold meetings on KC district

After another week of dramatic turns, Missouri’s education commissioner, Kansas City’s superintendent, state legislators and others are all stepping out to do a lot of talking and listening about what’s coming for Kansas City Public Schools.

First up this weekend, Interim Superintendent Steve Green is hosting what he’s calling a community coffee gathering at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Waldo branch of the Kansas City Public Library, 201 E. 75th St.

Next, Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro will return to Kansas City early next week. Nicastro will meet with the Kansas City school board in an open meeting at 5 p.m. Monday at the district’s offices, 1211 McGee St. Nicastro also plans to attend a town hall meeting hosted by state Sen. Kiki Curls at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Paseo Academy, 4747 Flora Ave.

The community needs more opporunities to sort through the different choices going forward, Curls said.

“There is a lot of misinformation,” Curls said. “A lot of fear of the unknown.”

The school district will become unaccredited effective Jan. 1. Nicastro wants to be ready to present a plan charting a course back to accreditation when she meets with the state school board Dec. 1. Reported conversations between Nicastro and Kansas City board members and district staff have made it apparent that the commissioner is considering several options, including possibly installing a state administrative board as soon as Jan. 1.

The departure of three key administrators who had served under former Superintendent John Covington has added to the stress on the district’s community.

Covington introduced the three Thursday as part of his team that will be leading the newly formed Michigan Education Achievement System.

Rebecca Lee-Gwin, MiUndrae Prince and Mary Esselman were picked by Covington to similar positions for the school system, which will be operating Michigan’s worst-performing schools.

Lee-Gwin was the chief financial officer for Kansas City, Prince was chief academic officer, and Esselman led the district’s curriculum and assessment.

All three were in Detroit, along with four more of Covington’s new appointees and three support personnel. No other Kansas City cabinet members were named to Covington’s team, though Covington is not finished completing his new cabinet.

Covington announced his choices to the Michigan Education Achievement Authority board during a meeting that was broadcast live online.