The pledge of $2 million from the Stowers Foundation is a powerful incentive for Académie Lafayette and Kansas City Public Schools to resume talks over starting a new International Baccalaureate high school at the Southwest Early College Campus.
But some of the issues that hung up the unprecedented partnership, in which Académie Lafayette would staff and operate the new school, haven’t gone away. They include how to select district students to match about 65 Académie Lafayette freshmen at Southwest. And then what happens to more than 500 students already at the Southwest campus? The high-performing charter school planned to add a high school grade each year.
Community groups also have voiced concerns about racial equity and whether the new school in the mostly white Southwest corridor would pull resources from the heavily minority school district.
These are legitimate issues, but shouldn’t be deal breakers. Kansas City badly needs an excellent public high school option in the Southwest area.
The Stowers pledge, and civic promises of up to $15 million more, present an opportunity that must not be squandered.
School board President Jon Hile said the commitment showed confidence in the school district. Hile and Superintendent Steve Green said for now they are focused on the budget and the district’s master plan. There’s no time line to reopen talks with Académie Lafayette.
Marvin Lyman, vice president of the Académie Lafayette board, welcomed the Stowers pledge, adding that the school continues to explore options.
The new financial support should prompt the parties involved to resolve differences and focus on what’s best for this community and its children.