Kansas City District Asks State Board for Provisional Accreditation

The Kansas City Public School District is asking the state of Missouri to grant accreditation to its schools on a temporary basis rather than wait until fall for a process of re-accreditation.

The reason? At least 18 students are asking to be transferred out of the unaccredited district under the conditions of a Missouri law that allows students to transfer to nearby accredited districts with tuition paid by the unaccredited district.  Kansas City school officials say just 24 of the district’s nearly 16,000 students applied to transfer during the school year that starts Aug. 11, according to TV station Fox4KC .

Joe Robertson, reporting for The Kansas City Star, says that Steve Green, superintendent of Kansas City Public Schools has stated that any students who transfer would return to their home schools after one year because he is confident that Kansas City will earn its provisional accreditation from the state board this fall and end the transfer law issue.

The dilemma is complicated.  During the last school year, about 2,000 children took advantage of this law, to the concern of the schools to which they transferred.  The state has recommended that tuition rates to the accredited schools be lowered to help with the financial strain that has been one of the primary reasons the unaccredited schools have been so crippled.

The below-minimum scores that created this situation have potentially moved up now, to the provisional level, but the scores will not be published until after this school year has already begun.  Kansas City has a pending lawsuit against the school board concerning the transfer law.  The district has offered to drop the lawsuit if the board will grant provisional status.

KCTV5 reports that the state board has said that it needs time to review the testing data before it can hand down a decision on the provisional accreditation.

“We’re waiting for the facts, not for what somebody would like to have be the case,” said Peter Herschend, president of the state board. Herschend was on the state board when the Kansas City district lost and then regained accreditation nearly 15 years ago.

Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro concurred. She said state officials must “get all the sufficient data about last year’s performance,” and then have district officials verify the data.

“Nobody has the numbers finished yet. All they have are very, very rough estimates,” he said. “We’d be delighted if Kansas City’s numbers came in and they were fully accredited. And the reason we would be is that the kids would be getting a better education.”

Lewis Diuguid, writing for The Kansas City Star, adds another condition to the list of factors effecting Kansas City schools.  That condition is the number of students in public schools who are living at or below poverty levels.

Diuguid writes that the Southern Education Foundation reported that the majority of students in Southern schools, since 2005, live in low-income households.  Now, for the first time in modern history, the majority of pre-kindergarten through 12th grade public school children in the West are also low-income students.