KCPS Seeks to Delay Public Vote on Pre-K Sales Tax Proposal

Superintendent and School Board request more time for collaboration to improve plan


Kansas City, Aug. 15, 2018:  The Kansas City Public Schools Board of Directors and administration have issued the following statement in regards to the proposed sales tax increase to fund early childhood education in Kansas City, Mo.:

We are requesting firmly that the proposed pre-K sales tax not be placed on the Nov. 6 ballot. Kansas City Public Schools fully supports the creation of a public pre-K system where all families have equitable access to a high-quality early childhood education that will prepare their children to succeed in kindergarten. The proposed plan as provided thus far does not meet that goal. That is why the Board of Directors unanimously approved a motion today calling for the proposal to not be sent for a vote in the November general election.

We are urging Mayor Sly James and the City Council of Kansas City, Mo., to delay a public vote on this proposal in order to give public school districts an opportunity to work with the city, and other organizations with a vested interest, to improve the plan. Serious concerns and questions revolve around four main areas:

  1. The proposed governance structure fails to provide an adequate amount of authority to the public school systems predominantly responsible for providing pre-K programs.
  2. The proposed plan raises concerns around providing equitable funding for programs in economically challenged “pre-K deserts” that need more access to early childhood education.
  3. It’s unclear how the proposed plan will create a functional framework to measure outcomes at pre-K sites.
  4. The proposed plan will funnel public money into private and parochial schools and will serve as a potential framework for implementing a voucher system in Kansas City, which will fragment the educational landscape in the city.

In addition to these four main concerns, we also have larger concerns about the use of a regressive tax that will inordinately impact the families that can least afford this additional cost. About $30 million a year in property tax revenue is redirected from KCPS alone due to economic development incentives. That is equal to the projected revenue from the proposed pre-K sales tax.

To be clear, we support the expansion of early childhood education. We do not support this proposed pre-K sales tax plan as it has been presented. Our concerns are in line with those expressed by many interested community organizations and many of our neighboring school systems that will be impacted by the plan. School districts, community organizations and Mayor Sly James need additional time to work together to craft a plan that will truly meet the pre-K needs of ALL our families and one that has the full support of our entire community.