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1957: National Defense Education Act

The Soviets made history being the first country to launch a satellite named Sputnik into orbit. As a result of this achievement by the Russians, the National Defense Education Act or the NDEA was created to enhance and strengthen the American school system. More than $1 billion was poured into public schools for new science and math curriculums to encourage students to pursue education after high school. This act was put into effect to counter increasing concerns of the United States being able to compete with the Soviet Union in the areas of science and technology.

Click here for more information on Sputnik and the NDEA

1966: District #500

Kansas City Kansas Public Schools officially becomes USD #500. 

In 1968, the position of County Superintendent was abolished.

1967: Merging with Washington

The Washington #202 Board of Education votes by a narrow margin to consolidate with the Kansas City, Kansas School District – USD #500. The consolidation of the Washington District was officially accepted on January 1, 1967. 

After the merger of Washington #202, the district purchased land at 61st and Parallel Parkway to build the first location for the KCKPS transportation department in 1967. Washington had their own buses, which grew the fleet from 60 to 200 buses.

1968: Bilingual Education Act

The Bilingual Education Act of 1968 provided funding for language instruction. The Act is noted as the first official federal recognition of the needs of students with limited English speaking ability (LESA). The Bilingual Education Act (BEA) was an amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Since 1968, the Act has undergone four re-authorizations with amendments, reflecting the changing needs of these students and of society as a whole.

1969-1975: Master Plan for Modernization

District administration presented a master plan for modernizing schools to the Board of Education. The Superintendent’s plan included a recommendation to:

  • Build a new elementary school in Argentine Heights (Silver City)
  • Build a new senior high at 22nd and Steele (JC Harmon)
  • Convert Rosedale and Argentine to middle schools.
  • Close Whitmore, J.J. Ingalls, John Fiske and Franklin.
  • Add to Emerson School if necessary (not done).
  • Build new facilities in Armourdale to replace John Fiske and J.J Ingalls

On January 20, 1970, voters approved the issuance of $24.5 million in bonds for new school construction. In response to the voters’ support, the BOE moved quickly. The following month with approval from the Board of Education, the Superintendent employed architects to prepare preliminary plans for work on twelve different elementary school additions, one new senior high school, a new junior high school and a major addition to Sumner.

The Board gave the proposal its tentative approval with the caveat that proper arrangements be made for extensive public information and discussion. They also established the next 60 days as a period, “for making such modifications as may appear advantageous.”

The work was scheduled to begin in 1974 and additional funds be sought from such sources as Urban Renewal, Model Cities or any others available.

1973 became known as the year of secondary school development and change with the addition of the new F.L. Schlagle High, J.C Harmon High School, and Dwight D. Eisenhower Junior High School which all opened at the same year. Each school was unique in its role in meeting the needs of community and educational change.

J.C. Harmon High School in Argentine also brought about major changes in the south part of the district. The Rosedale and Argentine attendance zones, which had each been served by a junior-senior high school enrolling grades 7-12, were merged into one high school zone, Harmon, to serve grades 10-12. The Argentine and Rosedale buildings were converted to middle schools with grades 6-9. Removal of grade 6 from all elementary schools in Rosedale, Argentine and Morse in Armourdale reduced elementary space requirements to the point that the students at Whitmore could be absorbed into Noble Prentis and Major Hudson.

1973: Secondary School Development and Change

The Rosedale Senior High School was merged with the Argentine Senior High School to form the new J.C. Harmon High School located near 21st and Steele. Road. The school was named after Mr. Harmon who was a former Principal of Argentine High School from 1924 to 1954.

F.L. Schlagle High School opened and was named after former Superintendent of Schools Frank L. Schlagle.

Dwight D. Eisenhower Junior High School opened.

All three schools opened the same time and had a unique role in meeting the educational needs of the students and community.

Next: A History of Segregation in Kansas Schools, Part III