Data: Kansas City's schools are segregated, costly

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City district has found that its public and charter schools are increasingly racially segregated, expensive to operate and losing high school students.

The district released new analysis showing that the city's school system is more segregated now than it was in the 1990s, KCUR-FM reported .

Roughly 78% of schools in the Kansas City system were segregated by 2017, well over the 32% of schools in 1999, according to the report. The district used the U.S. Government Accountability Office's definition of segregation for schools, which is where more than 75% of students receive free or reduced price lunch and more than 75% of students are black or Hispanic.

The district also found that the number of "intensely segregated" schools has grown since 1999. The definition refers to schools where more than 90% of students are poor and more than 90% of students are black or Hispanic.

There were only six schools classified as intensely segregated in 1999. In 2017, Kansas City had 27 schools that were intensely segregated, 10 of which were public schools and 17 which were charter.

The analysis attributes segregation in part to white families opting out of the system. Only 10% of Kansas City's public school students are white, and about half attend just seven schools.

Black families are also leaving the city for education opportunities in other areas, particularly the suburbs, according to the report. The population of students within the district's boundaries fell 10% between 2000 and 2015, while the number of black school-aged children dropped 42%. The number of Latino school-aged children grew by 124% during that period.

The analysis also found that Kansas City spends $80 million more on administration, transportation and overhead than the comparably sized Springfield district. The report attributes high costs to inefficiencies from operating 83 schools, compared to Springfield's 53.

The Kansas City system spent an average of $14,234 per pupil in 2017, while Springfield spent $9,323 per student. Kansas City faces a shortage of bus drivers, and spends more than two times as much on transportation as Springfield.

Meanwhile, many families are leaving the district in pursuit of other high school options, the report found. The city's public schools lose nearly half of all students between kindergarten and 12th grade, and among those, 52% transfer to another public school district or private school. About 55% of those who leave the city's charter schools transfer to a school outside the system.

From 2014 to 2017, the number of transfers from charters into nearby suburban schools jumped by 88%.

The district's superintendent, Mark Bedell, has expressed frustration that he can't provide students a complete high school experience because each cohort is so small. There are about 6,000 students in the system's 15 high schools.

Bedell is prioritizing investments in sports and extracurricular activities.

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Information from: KCUR-FM, http://www.kcur.org


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