The Other Shoe

The other shoe officially dropped this morning.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Southwest Early College Campus (SWECC) school in Kansas City, Mo., will remain open for the 2015-16 school year.

That’s a change of plans for the school. Earlier this year, Kansas City Public School District leaders announced they were forming a partnership with Academie Lafayette to form a new school in the SWECC building by 2015. Now district leaders are not sure what will become of SWECC.

“We are guided by the process,” KCPS Superintendent Dr. Stephen Green said. “We had hoped we would be ready by 2015, but that was not the case.”

This should not be a surprise. Any one who reads this site could have easily predicted this faux pas.

According to Our Friend members of the Académie Lafayette board held a special meeting for its 8th grade parents a month ago wherein the parents were strongly encouraged to seek high school placement for their children elsewhere. Indeed one board member was already making those arrangements for their own child.

The parents were told the notional Académie Lafayette IB high school was probably going to be placed on hold until at least the 2016-2017 school year, with an outside possibility that SWEC would not be ready for the Académie Lafayette/KCPS partnership until 2019. Our Friend said that the 8th grade parents were told the final decision would be relayed to them by the beginning of January.

We guess the Académie Lafayette board won’t have to bother now, n’est-ce pas?.

The Académie Lafayette board also sent out a school-wide questionnaire enquiring if parents would be willing to “incubate” the AL IB high school within the confines of their current 3-8 Oak Street campus. And if so, how likely would those parents be willing to send their children to the notional high school in another building (not SWEC 1) if and when Académie Lafayette found one?

Left out of the questionnaire were salient points: would KCPS scholars be attending the “incubated” high school at Oak? How would that work? In what proportion would those scholars be arriving? How would the IB high school be separated from the rest of the lower classes? How long would the “incubated” high school stay at Oak -the facility is stretched to max now?

Our Friend said the evening was pretty much a disaster. This is not the first time the AL board has spun grandiose schemes to its constituency only to have those goals sharply reduced; many of the parents in attendance that night were counting on the new AL IB school. Now, suddenly they have to find another educational solution.

Hillary in 2016

There’s more.

The AL board — up to this past Monday evening– had an open comment period at both the start and end of its public meetings, the better to listen to and serve its constituency. No more. Our Friend informed us that the AL board voted to just allow open comments at the beginning of the meetings, and then only if the parent/teacher/staffer signed up to do so in advance, would only be allotted 3 minutes to speak, and would (possibly) be informed in advance that the AL board would not respond to their concerns. 2

Then there’s Dr. Green, bonus money and the KCPS.

We’ve been sitting on some information passed our way more than 2 months ago simply because we have had little time to share it. We will correct that omission tonight. {Or…not; we collated the material but haven’t yet had time to present it. Soon…}

In the meantime you might pass this info on to any Académie Lafayette 8th grade parent you might happen to know: not everyone watches KSHB. 3

Hillary in 2016

Show 3 footnotes

  1. The only way AL can move into SWEC is via donor monies; the school needs millions in rehab. And frankly the donors involved in the original AL/KCPS proposal are only interested in using SWEC; they wish to see SWEC become the shining educational star it once was. Which is to say…if AL/KCPS decide to use another facility, the donors and their cash will not follow. You read that right, the donors are more interested in rehabbing SWEC than in education, per se.
  2. The details (where the sign-up sheets would be posted; exact number of days/times allowed to sign-up, et cetera) were pretty nebulous to Our Friend; he said by the time the public meeting was over and the board called for (the very last) open comment period he was pissed – he was of the opinion the move stank of censorship and was quick to let the board know it. The board, he said, disagreed. Big surprise, right?
  3. Though I’m sure those worthies would like to think so.

10 Replies to “The Other Shoe”

  1. Our family was at the Nov 12 meeting and we were as upset as you suggest. Many other families were as well. Mostly because once again the board waited until the last possible moment to tell us something they had obviously been made aware of much earlier. And then had the gall to tell us we would get a final answer from the district in January. It will be too late in many cases to put a child elsewhere by then. It’s maddening.

    In interest of sharing information here’s the letter the board sent out the Friday after that meeting.

    Friday, November 14, 2014

    Dear Académie Lafayette Parents,

    We heard your voices loud and clear Wednesday night. On behalf of the Académie Lafayette Board of Directors and the Head of School, we greatly appreciate your commitment to Académie Lafayette. We could not have come this far were it not for your stick-to-itiveness. We know it has not been easy. It has taken courage, sacrifice, and dedication. We appreciate you hanging in here with us.

    As you know, our board of directors has been working with the KCPS Administration to secure the Southwest Campus in an effort to start our long-sought high school. We signed a Memorandum of Understanding (M.O.U.) and held a joint press conference in June of this year denoting our genuine intent to partner with KCPS. Many concerns were voiced by the Académie Lafayette, KCPS, and Kansas City communities. Respective forums were held to ensure the best interests of all students were served. To date, there are two issues needing resolution:

    1.The KCPS Administration and their board must develop a long range solution benefiting its current student population at the Southwest Campus along with determining a manageable financial solution for operating and improving that location.
    2.The KCPS Administration and their board must settle on a date that is agreeable with Académie Lafayette and our long-range institutional plan to gain occupancy of the Southwest Campus.

    These are the most pressing issues that must have resolution to ensure that sound planning is conducted for Académie Lafayette and KCPS students.

    The difficulties in resolving these issues is making it increasingly difficult to start our program in the fall of 2015. We ask that all 8th grade parents seek alternative high school options for your students. We understand the anxiety of our current eighth grade parents and parents with children in the immediate lower grades. Our goal as stated in the M.O.U. is to open the Académie Lafayette High School in the fall of 2015, but we must be honest to the realities that we are quickly running out of time for opening next fall.

    To move forward, we must have swift resolution of the issues mentioned above which will allow us to secure the option(s) below:

    1.Starting at the Oak campus with a small 9th grade (60 students), then relocating to Southwest after one year.
    2.Starting at an alternative location in 2015 or 2016, and then relocating to Southwest after one to three years. (requires funder buy in)
    3.Starting the high school at Southwest only when it becomes completely available.

    Our curriculum and planning team have discussed co-locating with the current Southwest High School program and there are tremendous obstacles in operating two separate programs in the same facility. We believe it is in the best interest of both institutions to not open a new high school program alongside one that is closing. We continue to press forward as the curriculum is in its final drafting stage. There are many detailed tasks that are associated with each option and we will deliver bi-weekly updates as we push forward in an effort to maintain your trust and keep you well-informed. Again, we appreciate your candor and want you to know that you have our firm commitment to communicate more frequently on this and future developments. We will use the weekly newsletter as the communication tool.

    We are thankful for the high school fair at the Oak Campus Wednesday night. It is a testament to the fine work of our students, parents, faculty, administration, and board to give our children a world-class education that so many outstanding schools are yearning to recruit our scholars. Thank you for trusting us to move ahead. We understand you must explore other high school options now and encourage you to do so. This process has not been easy for you by any means and your patience is sincerely appreciated. We will continue to work on your behalf to bring continuity to your child’s high school education.

    If we are not able to open the high school in the fall of 2015, we will inform the entire community by January 9th, 2015.

    Additionally, we will send out an electronic survey to gather feedback from our community. Parents will receive a link via email early next week.

    Thank you again for your time and devotion to Académie Lafayette. We exist because of wonderful parents like you that persistently invest in our phenomenal school and Kansas City.

    Sincerely,

    Chad Phillips, Marvin Lyman, Elimane Mbengue,

    Board President Vice Chair Head of School

    I guess the board will use the newsletter Friday to tell us what KSHB and you already know.
    Great timing by the board again.

  2. interesting letter. one of my friends heard that at the last board meeting it was announced the board had just sent a formal letter to the district concerning al’s diversity program/package or some such. why does the district not already know that information or even care? and why wasn’t it mentioned in the newsletter as an issue? and even then it doesn’t sound like it has anything to dowith the price of beans right? what it appears to us is the district has decided they didn’t want the flak from the parents of the current swec students and intend to let everyone graduate from there for another four years. you simply can’t rust the district and we don’t know why al keeps trying.

  3. the board tries to do too much too soon. there isn’t any problem finding buildings, the school district can’t give them away. why do they always insist on doing these things before they’re actually ready? and why do they keep trying to hook up with the kc school district? wouldn’t it be better to just outright buy our own building? and if we don’t have the money for that now why don’t we just wait until we do? is that so hard?

  4. Oh for Pete’s sake. The board just sent this out less than an hour ago –

    Dear AL Community,

    Yesterday the Kansas City Public School District (KCPS) announced that the Southwest Early College Campus (SWECC) will remain open for the 2015-2016 school year. This delay was not entirely unexpected, as the school district seeks ways to responsibly wind down the program.

    We are continuing active and productive discussions with KCPS about opening an AL High School at Southwest. It is taking longer than we hoped or anticipated, but we are working diligently to complete negotiations. We will inform you by January 9, 2015 if we will be able to open the high school in an alternate location for a start date of Fall 2015.

    We appreciate your patience during this process.

    Chad Phillips
    AL Board President

    “…as the school district seeks ways to responsibly wind down the program.”

    In other words Dr Green jumped the gun AND underestimated how much push-back he was going to get for dumping the current SWEC kids in other schools and was unwilling to do the hard thing, no matter how much he wanted to be associated with Academy Lafayette. He just couldn’t pull the trigger. See – this is why no one wants AL to be associated with KC school district.

  5. We went by Oak a while back – one of the television news stations was there preparing for a broadcast. Couldn’t tell which one…check the 10 o’clock news tonight.

  6. We know a bunch of families already planning to put current AL 5th and 4th graders elsewhere. There’s just too much confusion around AL’s proposals, too many variables, too much reliance on outside agencies for us to trust that a “world class” high school will emerge whenever. If the school had put together a reasonable long term plan that would have been one thing. But this rushing into action without a backup has become the signature of the AL board.

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