1 of 2
Hazel Grove Elementary SchoolA new Hazel Grove Elementary School will open this week at 2401 N. 67th St. The school is a two-story, 70,394-square-foot building that will house up to 550 students, according to district information.
2 of 2
Mark Twain Elementary SchoolMark Twain Elementary School, 2300 Minnesota Ave., across from Wyandotte High School, is a two-story, 45,920-square-foot structure with room for 232 students, according to district information.
Hazel Grove Elementary School
Mark Twain Elementary School
When school started this week in the Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools, students at two elementary schools, Mark Twain and Hazel Grove, attended classes in new buildings.
Students in kindergarten through fifth grade, plus sixth grade at middle schools and ninth grade at Washington, Wyandotte, Schlagle and Harmon high schools, plus eighth graders at Sumner Academy, reported to school on Monday, Aug. 12. All students reported to school on Tuesday, Aug. 13, in the Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools district.
This year will be the first in memory that the district has opened two new schools, according to district officials.
”We’ve opened three buildings four years ago with major renovations but this is the first time we’ve opened two new buildings at the same time,” Superintendent Cindy Lane said.
Mark Twain School, 2300 Minnesota Ave., across from Wyandotte High School, is a two-story, 45,920-square-foot structure with room for 232 students, according to the district.
Hazel Grove School, 2401 N. 67th St., is a two-story, 70,394-square-foot building that will house up to 550 students, according to district information.
Both schools are replacements for existing buildings, and have kitchens, special reading classrooms, computer labs, and music and art facilities, according to district information. And both are wired for high-tech education using Apple TV and iPads. Hazel Grove, about one and a half times larger than Twain, has a gymnasium.
Hazel Grove Elementary cost just over $15 million to build, and Mark Twain cost almost $11 million, according to district officials.
“We’re just so excited about the opening of the new schools,” said Evelyn Hill, president of the Kansas City, Kan., Board of Education. “Just to see the kids at a quality educational facility is always exciting to me.”
District Chief of Staff David Smith said the opening day of school went off very well. The weather prevented the district from getting the parking lot at Hazel Grove finished, but otherwise, the parents, students and staff are thrilled with the new schools, he said.
“We have an average building age of 59 years,” Smith said. That’s old in comparison with surrounding districts, he said.
“Our staff works really, really hard to keep them in shape,” he said. “As we can, we are continuing to make improvements to them.”
Student population in the district also continues to grow, Smith said.
“Our children deserve this,” said school board member Brenda Jones, about the new buildings. “The great thing is it has been done without increasing taxes.”
She noted that the funding came from the district’s capital outlay funds, which cannot be used for any purposes other than building expenditures and maintenance.
She added that the population of the schools is expanding, and the board has chosen to build new schools at the same sites as existing schools.
“Because our student population is expanding, we’re having to readjust and move boundaries around to ease populations at various schools,” she said.
The next new school building for the district will be McKinley Elementary, 1301 Armstrong, which will have space enough for 350 students, according to district information. The site of the new school is different, but close to the existing school at 611 N. 14th. The 42,000-square-foot building will be paid with capital outlay funding and will result in no property tax increases, according to the district.
Jones hopes the new buildings will help the district eliminate pods, which are temporary classrooms located in parking lots or playgrounds at schools.
All district schools are now air-conditioned, she said, so the district no longer has to offer half-days in August.
At Twain school, the new entrance is on the east side of the building, Jones said, and buses now will be able to drive up to the door where children may exit the bus. The new circular driveway means the children don’t have to exit the bus on the street.
The district is planning a ribbon-cutting at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Twain school, and another ribbon-cutting at a later date at Hazel Grove.
"We’re excited about it, and the kids will be excited when they get there,” Jones said.
Two schools in the district opened early – Northwest Middle School and New Stanley Elementary School, which started Aug. 2 and July 29.
- Updated Aug. 13