I’m going to Kansas City

I know something about Missouri’s big city public schools. I took a tour of one a decade ago in St. Louis. It was the only time I had to walk though a metal detector to get into a school.

Two Red Plan stalwarts jumped on the recent news that KC will be closing 29 public schools as proof of the brilliance of the Duluth School Board and the Red Plan. Here’s some of what Robin Down’s had to say:

I read with interest the March 12 article, “Massive school closures planned in Kansas City.” Kansas City is like Duluth, with declining enrollment that has reduced its student population by more than 50 percent and with far too much infrastructure for the new reality.

There are a couple problems with this comparisson. First Dr. Dixon and company have complained for years that we have 25% more capacity than we need and according to them it follows that we must close schools so as not to pay for too much wasted energy to heat the space. They have suggested that doing this will allow us to reduce our staff accordingly. Yet the Red Plan space will only cut half of this “excess” space while building some energy consuming space like the glass covered jewel at the new Denfeld.

Kansas City is a special case because a federal judge required that some billions be spent to fix up the City’s failing schools. It was spent but the schools continued to fail, so much so that the money is all gone. Closing 29 schools is the only way to fill in the remaining sink hole.

The Duluth Schools were never in this situation. Simply closing a high school would have addressed the space problems. That’s not what the School Board opted to do. What they did instead was cut $5 million in staff and decree that this cut will continue every year for the next twenty years to help pay for the new buildings. I would guess that at least half of this staff cut is over an above any potential savings from having fewer schools. You can count on increased class sizes.

If our schools resemble the KC schools it is only because of the ineptness of our School Board. I think their Red Plan has already cost about 10% of the District’s enrollment. Several hundred students who once open enrolled into our schools from outside the district have returned to their old districts and perhaps a thousand of our students have fled. That’s the Kansas City model all right.

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