Saturday, April 30, 2011
Everything's Not Uptodate at KIIP Kansas City
POSTED: 5:17 pm CDT April 29, 2011
UPDATED: 6:03 pm CDT April 29, 2011
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Parents at one local school are holding a town hall meeting Saturday because they said they want the principal fired.
The parents said the mistakes the principal has made this year have hurt students.
Students at KIPP Endeavor Academy went home Friday like any other regular day, but behind the scenes a group of parents said the charter school has failed to live up to its own motto.
“Their motto is no excuses, no short cuts," said parent Cherise Ellison. "And we expect the same from them.”
Ellison is just one of the parents that met Friday afternoon to organize the town hall meeting on Saturday to address several problems.
She said she is upset the principal decided to disband the parent association with little explanation.
“(She said they were) moving in a different direction, and she never got back to me about what that meant,” said parent Marisol Montero.
The biggest concern for the parents is the fact that the charter school applied for federal Title 1 money. They were granted $256,000, but the school never came up with a plan on how to use that money. And parents said at a time when most school districts are struggling financially, it makes no sense to have all this money just sitting there.
"It shouldn’t just be sitting there," Montero said. "It should be used for children to support teachers for training.”
Montero and other parents blame the new principal, and they want her removed from her position.
"She has been given multiple chances to make it right," Montero said. "Now we need a change of leadership.”
The principal told KCTV5, "We did discontinue the KIPP parent association as I felt it needed to be reorganized. There were disagreements between parents about the proper direction and leadership of the committee. We are currently planning for a new parent organization, which will pick up in the fall.
"We were unable to use this federal funding because we did not have a Title 1 federal program or program coordinator at the start of the school year. This past March, we named a Title 1 coordinator …and we will be able to roll over $130,000 of this funding for next year."
The Town Hall meeting will be at 5 p.m. Saturday at Penn Valley Community College.
One of the nation’s fastest-growing charter-school models may be stumbling in Kansas City.
Concerns over the local management of the KIPP Endeavor Academy have prompted its sponsoring college to put the public school through the same kind of comprehensive site review the state conducts for struggling school districts.
According to state documents, the middle school did not establish programs to use certain federal money that will have to be returned. The school also has had too few classroom teachers meeting the state’s criteria for “highly qualified.”
Several parents have been pressing these and other issues, leading to a meeting today with the school board.
The KIPP school is sponsored by Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley, which is responsible for holding it accountable. Charter schools are public schools that operate independently with their own school boards.
The sponsor has been aware of the concerns and set up the review process to take a closer look, said Jerry Kitzi, the charter school sponsor liaison for MCC-Penn Valley.
“We can’t go on hearsay,” Kitzi said. “So we’re doing an audit.”
Parent organizer Marisol Montero said the school management is suffering from “gross negligence.”
“They’re wasting taxpayers’ money,” she said.
Principal Kristi Meyer said she hopes meeting with the parents will help create a unified effort to solve some of the school’s problems.
The school is developing a plan to establish programs to receive federal funds, she said, and teachers will be taking skill exams that will boost the number of highly qualified teachers above 80 percent.
“My hope is that … we get a clear understanding of the concerns of the parents and that they understand the steps we are taking,” Meyer said.
The KIPP model has nearly 100 schools serving some 27,000 students across the country. KIPP, which stands for Knowledge Is Power Program, opened its Kansas City middle school in 2007.
The school aims to serve high-needs families with programs geared to help students make up gaps in their education. It has longer school days, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with Saturday hours.
The local school’s enrollment of some 225 students includes more than 80 percent from families who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.
The school saw enough improvement in its state test scores a year ago to make the federal guideline of annual progress.
In communication arts, 28.9 percent scored proficient or advanced in 2010, compared with 22.2 percent in 2009. In math, the percentage rose from 23.2 percent to 44.1 percent.
A consulting team will visit the KIPP school at the MCC-Penn Valley Pioneer Campus. The school will then need to draft an improvement plan by this summer to address areas that need fixing, Kitzi said.
The progress the school makes according to the improvement plan would determine whether the sponsor would put the school on probation or consider revoking its sponsorship.