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Like Growing Kids Need New Shoes, NKC Needs More Classrooms

The North Kansas City School District plans to build an addition to Northgate Middle School that will contain four new classrooms. Photo Credit: KC Education Enterprise

Students going back to school next fall will find more classroom space at three middle schools in the North Kansas City School District. However, given the fact that their buildings are already crowded and enrollment is continuing to rise, students still won’t exactly have a lot of space to stretch out in.

LaTrisha’s going through a growth spurt. It seems like she grew out of her old tennis shoes overnight. The new pair fit her just right … for now. But for how much longer?

Antioch, Maple Park and Northgate are the three middle schools that will be receiving four new classrooms each. In addition, the district will be adding four extra rooms at Northgate for English Language Learners, Parents as Teachers and secure storage for standardized tests. Projected cost to build the 16 rooms is about $4.5 million, which will come from funds the state of Missouri requires the district to spend on construction and renovation and not on instruction.

“While dollars are tight, I do believe this is a good use of our Capital Project Fund balance as we can construct 16 new rooms without going to the District’s patrons asking for additional tax revenue,” Chief Financial Officer Paul Harrell wrote in a report to the North Kansas City Board of Education earlier this year.

Schools are filling up, because enrollment has been on the rise in North Kansas City, as it has been in most districts across the metro area. Because of rising enrollment, the district’s middle schools aren’t the only ones pressed for space. However, since the start of the economic downturn, school officials have had less money to spend on building and renovation, so administrators must make strategic decisions about budgeting for building.

Johnny’s feet are really hurting in his old shoes, so we’ll get a new pair this month. Jennifer can wear last year’s coat a while longer, even if the sleeves are getting too short.

At Antioch Middle School, district officials plan to build four new classrooms — including a science room — on to the west end of the front hallway. Here are preliminary plans and an aerial view of the site from Hollis + Miller Architects:

At Maple Park Middle School, district officials plan to build four science classrooms on to the south end of the building near the gym. Here are the architect’s preliminary plans and aerial view:

At Northgate Middle School, administrators plan to build four classrooms on the west end of the front wing. In addition, extra rooms required for district use will be built at Northgate, because the school is just up the hill from district administration offices. Of course, this extra space could also be used for classrooms if enrollment continues to grow.

How can Omar need new jeans already? I bought several new pairs last fall to take him through the winter, and I don’t have the budget for more school clothes right now. Good thing we saved the jeans Rogelio outgrew. Maybe they’ll fit Omar now.

Here are the architect’s preliminary plans and aerial view for Northgate:

When deciding which schools are most in need of new classrooms, district officials relied on recommendations from their Demographic Advisory Committee and a planning consultant, RSP and Associates.

Demographic changes in the district have led to increasing enrollment. There are now a thousand more students attending North Kansas City Schools than there were five years ago. And projections are that the district will add another thousand students over the next several years.

That’s a lot of growing kids. How are we going to keep them all in tennis shoes?

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About jwmartinez

JoLynne is a journalist and educator. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Park University and is certified to teach high school journalism and English. Former employment includes work for Cable News Network and the University of Missouri-Kansas City in addition to freelancing for clients such as the Kansas City Star and The Pitch.


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