Six Missouri schools in western Independence and Sugar Creek opened their doors more than 2,200 students Monday, their first day as part of the Independence district. A boundary-change vote last year moved the schools from the Kansas City district to Independence, and the transition that followed was anything smooth. Eight months of legal wrangling followed. But all that was in the past with the start of school. Overall, principals reported smooth openings.
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EARLIER: The Independence (Mo.) school district is rushing to do what it can before school starts in six weeks to spruce up the facilities it has inherited from the Kansas City district. Ever since a November vote altered the boundaries of the two districts, Independence district officials have clamored for unrestricted access to the buildings so they could plan for and make repairs. But negotiations between the two districts have dragged on for months, and the facilities have been available to the Independence district only sporadically. A judge this week gave control of the buildings to the Independence system. (Kansas City Star)
A Jackson County, Mo., judge has granted the Independence School District unlimited access to seven school buildings at the center of a property dispute with the Kansas City School District. The judge found that the Independence district would suffer irreparable harm if access to the school facilities was delayed. Voters in each school district voted last year to shift district boundaries, essentially moving the seven schools into the Independence district. But the two districts have been unable to agree on compensation and a transition plan. (Kansas City Star)
The Independence (Mo.) School District’s plan to begin rehabbing schools inherited through a boundary change with the Kansas City district came to a halt just hours after work began. Independence officials say they were locked out of the school buildings they had planned to take possession of. Kansas City leaders say nobody was locked out, but that details still had to be worked out to ensure an orderly transfer of the seven schools. (Kansas City Star)
FROM JUNE 2008: A three-member arbitration panel has ruled that the Independence (Mo.) district could owe as much as $13.7 million to the Kansas City district as compensation for a November boundary change that whittled away some Kansas City territory. Even as that ruling was being issued, though, the nonprofit corporation that owns the seven Kansas City buildings involved in the boundary change began seeking a temporary restraining order to keep Independence from entering the buildings. (Kansas City Star)
In Missouri, the Kansas City and Independence districts are blaming each other for the collapse of last-minute attempts to settle a financial dispute. The problem flows from the November vote that extended the Independence district into what had been Kansas City territory. That left the two sides to hash out a financial agreement on compensation for seven Kansas City schools that have become part of the Independence district. The two sides were $130 million apart when they appeared before the arbitration board in April. The three-member arbitration board is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. Friday in Jefferson City. (Kansas City Star)
The School District of Kansas City Missouri Building Corp., owns the seven school buildings that are set to be transferred from the Kansas City district to the Independence district, says it should determine the value of those properties. That opinion raises questions about whether a state arbitration panel will be able to settle a boundary-change battle between the districts. The building corporation was formed in 1984 to secure capital improvement funding through the sale of tax-exempt bonds. It leases the buildings to the district. Kansas City says the buildings are worth $43.2 million; Independence puts their value at $4.6 million. But the building corporation says those appraisals are irrelevant and that it should be the one to set a price. About 3,700 students attend those schools, including many who will be moved to other schools in the Kansas City district. (Kansas City Star)
FROM APRIL 2008: The job of settling a property dispute between the Kansas City and Independence school districts in Missouri is back before state arbitrators. The superintendent of each district says negotiations are at an impasse. The dispute largely centers on the value of school buildings — and their furnishings — that Independence has inherited as part of a boundary-change vote in November. (Kansas City Star)
EARLIER: An arbitration panel will determine the value of buildings that the Independence (Mo.) School District will inherit this summer from the neighboring Kansas City district. The districts are nearly $200 million apart in their claims over costs associated with the transfer. Kansas City officials argue that Independence should pay about $157 million--nearly four times the compensation figure frequently cited before voters approved the boundary change in November. Independence, meanwhile, says that even though it will inherit those properties, it thinks it is owed roughly $41 million for the switch--largely to cover costs for maintenance that the Kansas City district has failed to perform. (Kansas City Star)
FROM JANUARY 2008: Seven buildings in west Independence, Mo., and Sugar Creek, Mo., are scheduled to switch in July from the Kansas City School District to the Independence School District. The districts have fewer than 140 working days to sort out the futures of some 3,000 students and more than 200 staff positions before school starts in August. Amid the questions: how to rearrange school boundaries, move students, restaff schools and negotiate the transfer of the buildings. (Kansas City Star)
FROM NOVEMBER 2007: Families and property owners in west Independence, Mo., have won their long-sought freedom from the Kansas City School District. Voters in each district overwhelmingly approved measures to move seven schools from the Kansas City district into the Independence district. The schools are within the city limits of Independence and Sugar Creek. Many residents have blamed the area’s economic decline in part on the reputation of its schools. They have tried for more than three decades to redraw boundary lines. (Kansas City Star)
Voters in two Missouri districts will cast ballots on whether to turn over control of seven schools in the Kansas City district to the neighboring Independence district. To pass cleanly, it needs a simple majority in both districts. If the question passes in one district, but fails in the other, the outcome could be appealed to a three-person arbitration panel. (Kansas City Star)
The Kansas City (Mo.) school board is trying to prevent a November election that could remove seven of its schools to the neighboring Independence School District. A judge has ordered that the boundary issue be on the ballot Nov. 6, and the Kansas City district has appealed the ruling. Five elementary schools, one high school and one middle school--all in the cities of Independence or Sugar Creek--would be affected. Proponents of the boundary change, who collected signatures to force an election, have argued that the move would improve their property values and provide a better education for students. (Kansas City Star)