Updates (Sep 10)

There hasn’t been a lot of activity to post on lately. Fortunately, despite some ongoing traffic challenges, the school year appears to have gotten off to a pretty good start. If you go to Chinn Elementary, it sounds like the construction on 72nd street is going to get more complicated and take more time than expected.

School Start Time Advisory Committee (SSTAC)

If you’re interested in the future of start times, it’s time to start paying attention. As mentioned in the past, we don’t have a big concern on the outcomes.

On Monday there was another SSTAC meeting. Here’s the link to the entire presentation.


At this point in the process, the committee is starting to draft start time options. They’re starting with 18 or so options, then will narrow them down to a few that will go out for public comment.

Here’s a couple examples of the work products that are being put together. One shows a three start time scenario. The other shows a four start time scenario. I doubt the four time scenarios will make it far, but it shows the type of thought processes that are going into this.

One of the scenarios below would reduce 16 drivers. The other would cut drivers by 35.

The next SSTAC meeting is September 23, then things will go out to the public on October 1.

There is a lot of good information from each of the meetings on the Park Hill Listens website. If your interested in the outcomes of this process, read the info, and go to the next meeting. All are open to the public.


September 12 Board meeting

There’s also a regular Board of Education meeting this week. Similar to the last meeting, there’s not much heavy material for the agenda.

There is an interesting presentation on nutrition programs.


There’s also a review of how well the district thinks they communicate with the public.


Aug 22 Board meeting

There’s a Park Hill Board of education meeting tonight. Here’s the agenda…

In terms of agenda items, it’s pretty light this time. Maybe the lightest agenda since we’ve been tracking them more closely.

Two things of interest to make everyone aware of…

Public Hearing for 2019 Tax Rate

We discussed this previously.


  • The overall tax rate will not increase for residents.
  • Most home owners will see their tax bill go up, based on increased assessments from Platte County.
  • While the overall tax rate will be the same, there’s a combination of a decrease in the operating levy and an increase in the debt service levy.

This will be the first thing that takes place at the Board meeting tonight.

Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP) review

This is the second topic of relevance for tonight’s meeting. The district has a CSIP that is a guiding document for initiatives the district implements. The current CSIP is from 2018-2023, and was originally presented to the Board in April 2018. Here’s a link to the document.


At tonight’s meeting, staff will review trends agains current goals such as:

  • Each student will graduate college, career and life-ready
  • Ensure success for ALL students regardless of background
  • They will also review key 2019-2020 strategies that include:
    • College and career readiness index
      Social Emotional Learning (SEL) index
      21st Century Skills Assessment
      Assess and Opportunity, Readiness gap
  • Here’s a link to the presentation that will be used.
  • http://boepublic.parkhill.k12.mo.us/attachments/5c40924a-baa0-4f69-bdbc-b203aca2f1c0.pdf
  • First day of school – traffic updates

    Tomorrow’s the first day of school for Park Hill students and teachers. We have new buildings, we have existing buildings with new classes (Plaza) and we have students going to different buildings (redistricting). While an exciting day for all, there are a number of big changes to be aware of.

    New schools

    Hopewell Elementary opens tomorrow, off of 68th street and Waukomis. While designed for good traffic flow, there will undoubtably be some back-ups the first few days as everyone gets used to traffic pattern. School starts at 8:45 a.m. and releases at 3:30 p.m.

    Walden Middle school also opens. Construction to the school is a complete mess (more below). School starts at 7:35 a.m. Expect congestion and confusion all along 56th street from 7-8, and likely again from 2-3 when school dismisses at 2:30.

    Also new, Plaza transitions from the 6th grade center to a middle school. Most students attending Plaza start east of I-29. 72nd street construction will likely cause a congestion for several days as bus drivers and parents get used to traffic patterns.


    Two major road construction projects will impact several schools. It would not be surprising if they also cause significant bus delays in the first week or so of school.

    First, as noted above, Northwood is a complete mess and will impact the new Walden Middle School and Southeast Elementary. Northwood was supposed to be open from 9-highway to 56th street, but it’s not yet finished. If you live out west and go to Walden, good luck. Your options include:

    • East on 64th street to Prairie View to 56th street.
    • East on 9 Highway, and Paradise Valley Road up to 56th street
    • 9 Highway to 635 to 29, then jump three lanes to 56th street
  • None of these are good options.
  • The Northwood construction also creates a mess at Southeast Elementary (8:45 start and 3:30 dismissal). You cannot get to the school from the south or west. All traffic will have to start on Prairie View and either go south on Northwood, or west on 56th street. There’s also construction taking place on the entrance to the school that is bound to create a big bottleneck. Again, good luck.

    72nd street will also impact two schools.

    For Chinn, there are a number of students that live north or west of the school and will be impacted. I assume a lot of families will have to go south to 64th street, then up Overland Drive to make it to the school. That may sound bad, until you compare to the northwest corner of the boundary that will have to drive around Lake Waukomis to get to the school. Good luck to you, as well.

    Finally (hopefully), 72nd street construction will impact parents and buses getting to Plaza Middle School. Almost all of the geography is east of I-29 and construction will likely add a lot of traffic to I-29 and then the 72nd street exit.

    More than anything, everyone will need a lot of patience the next several days, weeks, and months. We’re also dealing with a tight supply of bus drivers, and what will be challenging conditions. Expect some delays. If you have a route that has the first run to Plaza, then has to get kids to Chinn or Hopewell, there’s bound to be some delays. Similar case if starting at Walden, then Southeast or Line Creek.

    Be patient, take your time, and hopefully (through all of this) we have a great start to the school year!

    Start Time Advisory Committee (meeting 2)

    The meeting on Wednesday evening was primarily to review the criteria the Board identified for decision making.

    These include:

    • Reduction of drivers/buses/routes – critical
    • Aligns with findings of start time research committee – very important
    • Cost of student transportation – very important
    • Maintain access to extra curricular programming – very important
    • Maintain safety at bus stops – very important
    • Minimize negative impact on families – very important
    • Minimize change / disruption – very important
    • Consistency with benchmark districts – important
  • Like with the redistributing process, it’s virtually impossible to have a highly credible decision process with this many equally criteria.
  • While the agenda for the meeting looked very boring, there was some interesting information presented.
  • Adventure club:

    Adventure club information doesn’t commonly get shared. Below are a couple slides that were presented to the committee.

    This is an important program for a lot of families across the district. It was surprising to see the differences in wait list numbers between different schools.

    It was stated at the meeting that Adventure Club hours and rates would not be proposed to change based on start time changes. This would likely have to be reconsidered based on final proposals.

    Similar to bus drivers, it was noted that there is difficulty in recruiting people for Adventure Club roles, and that many of the roles are filled by college students.

    Other district times:

    A handout at the meeting also compared start times for a few other KCMO districts. These are all listed below. None are perfect comps with Park Hill, but do provide good information on how other districts handle this.

    The next meeting of this committee isn’t until August 28.

    Property assessments

    At tomorrow night’s Board meeting, the district will receive a presentation that is positive for the district financial situation.

    Every two years, Platte County updates assessed valuations for property. This includes residential, commercial, agricultural and personal property. When doing their budgets for June approval, the district has to work off of estimates until they receive the final numbers from the county.

    Platte County’s Aggregate Assessed Value (AAV) is reported to be 7.4% higher than in 2018. A lot of this is due to new construction within the district. When doing their budget work, I believe the district was estimating a 2.5% increase in AAV.

    Why is this important?

    AAV drives property tax revenue for the district. The district (within state and voter constraints) sets the levy rate, and the county sets the AAV that the rate is applied against. So, at the same tax rate, a higher AAV generates more revenue for the district.

    Overall, the district is estimating that this change will improve operating revenue for $828,000 during the year.

    Tax levy changes

    The tax levy part can be complicated based on different parts of the overall levy, state laws and voter approved levees.

    Overall, the Park Hill tax levy will remain steady at 5.3955 per $100 in assessed value. The picture below does a pretty good job of explaining how this works. So, if the county increased the assessed value of your home, you will be paying more due to the valuation, but the levy will be the same.

    Focus on the information on the right. The left side just demonstrates that Park Hill has a lower tax levy than average among KCMO districts. Also, $247,115 is the median home value in the Park Hill district.

    Here’s what is being proposed, for the levy. Based on state rules, the operating levy will go down a little bit (but still generate more revenue due to higher AAV). The district will increase the debt service levy (but still below the maximum allowable level). This will keep the levy steady with last year.

    As we have seen with other counties in the area, there’s nothing simple and easy about property valuations. Be sure to keep up to date on county assessments for your home. However, this is an example of how the growth in construction throughout the district does help support infrastructure for our schools.

    Start Time Advisory Committee

    The first meeting was last night. The advisory committee is made up of approximately 20 staff persons and around 20 community members.

    First – thank you to the members of the community who volunteered for this!

    Second – the decision to move to three tiers of start times has been made. The advisory committee will be focusing on a recommendation for implementing the three tiers.

    If you’re not supportive of three tiers, contact Board members, not committee members. There’s really not anything the committee will be able to do in regard to keeping two tiers.

    The primary goal for the district is to reduce the number of drivers. They also need the cost savings that come from the reduction in drivers.

    They need to do this fairly quickly for upcoming transportation bidding processes. There’s a number of things in play in the next year that we’ll try to summarize.

    • Early in 2020, the district should be done constructing the transportation center. In the previous contracts with First Student, part of the fees covered construction of the First Student facility off of 9 highway. No other service provider has a facility within the district. They’re hoping that by having our own facility, it will increase the number of bus companies that bid for the business.
    • The current contract with First Student expires at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. The district will want to do bidding later this year, or early in 2020 to have a transportation company in place.
    • They need to have the tiers finalized to be able to communicate in the bid process.

    Here’s the link to the presentation that was used last night. Overall, there’s not much new in it.


    It’s hard to get to excited about this process. The district is committed to moving to three tiers, but since there messed up the previous roll-out, they’ve created a time consuming process to “show” engagement with the community. I actually feel sorry for the principals who have to spend extra time at all these meetings because the administration screwed up.

    In conclusion, we’re going to three tiers, it’s just a matter of what schools start at what times. We need to do it because First Student can’t retain drivers, and because the district needs to cost savings to reduce operating deficits.

    Population trends

    There was a question asked about population trends in different areas of the district. We thought we’d dig into it a little deeper.

    Annually, the district publishes a demographic report. The most recent one was shared at a March Board meeting.


    You can find this by searching on the Board info site, but the 2018-2019 version is still what is more easily available for some reason. Side topic, but the Board info site is a good source of information from meetings. Check it out.


    The demographic report has a lot of good, but not complete, information.

    This map has estimated number of kids under 5 in 2018. This is a good estimate for future student numbers. The red zones have the most kids under 5 – so I-29 and Barry Road, I-29 and 64th street and line creek each have more than 200 kids under 5. The absolute numbers are important as they drive enrollment.

    Additionally, they publish a map of expected growth rates for kids under the age of 5. This shows the highest growth rates in the western half of the district. The red areas are expecting 80% or more growth in the number of kids under 5. These growth rates apply to 2028. The district hires a demographer to help with these forecasted rates. These are helpful in planning for future enrollment, and facility plans.

    Where the district falls short is closing the loop and applying the growth rates to the current numbers so that it’s easy to see how many kids are expected to be in each of the zones in the future.

    We applied the growth rates to the 2018 number and included them on the map below. It gets a little messy to read, but hopefully it gives some additional detail.

    The next map highlights the areas with the most growth in kids under 5 in 2028. For the five areas highlighted in red, they account for 381 new children. For the next ten (in orange), they account for an additional 350 kids under 5.

    Finally, we took the numbers off and tried to make a graphic that may be easier to understand. We also used elementary boundaries (new boundaries for 2019-2020) for the background.

    The circles represent absolute student numbers. Bigger circles means more kids (forecasted for 2028). The colors are the growth rates. For example, there are big black circles in the center. These represent areas with more than 200 kids under 5 in 2028, but a declining population trend.

    A medium sized red circle (west of 435) represents 100-200 kids, but growing at a fast rate.

    Hopefully these gives some additional context to district population changes, based on data in the district demographic report. More kids means we’re going to have to continue adding buildings. The district will need smart demographic work to get buildings in the best locations for our changing demographics.