Topeka, Mar 12: Hit by plummeting school enrolments, Kansas City is closing down nearly half of the district's schools, CNN report said.
John Covington, superintendent of the Kansas City, Missouri, school district said that they will soon notifying students, parents and teachers of where they will be in 2011.
Briefing about the plan, Covington said that some of the newly-vacant buildings will be sold while parks and/or community centers will be build in other places where the closed schools were once located with the help of community leader.
“The entire transformation plan…will cost approximately $25 million," Covington said,
Justifying the decision, Covington said that the closure was necessary as the the financial future of the entire school district was at stake.
"No one likes closing schools. It's hard. It's tough on families, and it's certainly tough on our community," superintendent John Covington said Thursday.
"Closing schools and making the remaining schools much stronger academically is unquestionably the right thing to do. We were operating far too many schools," he said.
In keeping with the attempt to reduce the burgeoning deficit, the plan also include 700 jobs cuts to save $50 million.
Pointing out the dismal enrolments in the district, Covington said that only 60 percent of the seats in its elementary schools, 40 percent in its middle schools and an even smaller percentage in its high schools were being used in the district.
He said that the first phase of 'right-sizing' would cover up schools where enrolments have slipped further to to about 17,000 in 2009-10 against 35,000 in the 1999-2000 school year.
The district said that the paln includes the closure of 29 education facilities, including 26 schools.
Convington proposal which he calls as "right-size" plan was approved by a divided Kansas City Board of Education on Wednesday, Mar 10 after weeks of contentious debate, in the wake of the dwindling enrolment.
Hit by the budget cuts, school districts across America had to choose between closures, program cuts, bus route cancellations and layoffs of teachers and staff inorder to make ends meet.
Atleast 17 states have opted for four-day weeks.
However, the decision to shut down schools have not gone down well with concerned parents and students.
"I have an 8-year-old and a 6-year-old that will be going to school with 12th graders. I find that very inappropriate. I don't feel my children will be safe," Deneicia Williams told CNN affiliate KSHB-TV.
"I feel like I have nothing, I have no high school legacy. I feel like I have nothing, nothing to go back to," said Prince Jones, a senior, who will be part of the final graduating class at Westport High School.
Four out of the nine board members have voted against the plan.
"I deserve the right to make a rational decision based on facts, and we were never given facts about student achievement," Cokethea Hill, who voted against the closings, told KSHB.
A last minute appeal was made by activists on Wednesday, Mar 10 who said that the it could lead to deterioration of communities and drive residents out of the district.
"What I'm asking you today to do is to give our children justice," said Ron Hunt, a community activist.
"The blighting of the urban core is scandalous and shameful," said Sharon Sanders Brooks.