Schools First meets the sound of silence

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Funkhouser's big idea took a shot to the gut.
  • Funkhouser's big idea took a shot to the gut.

One of Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser's major initiatives met the sound of crickets chirping on Wednesday morning.

Funk presented Schools First, his idea to issue $100 million in bonds to pay for sidewalks and other infrastructure around school buildings, to the Transportation & Infrastructure committee. No one on the committee made a motion to pass the ordinance, putting its future and its chief sponsor in an unhappy place.

Terry Riley chairs the committee. He asked his colleagues twice

if they wanted to make a recommendation. Cathy Jolly, Melba

Curls, Jan Marcason and Bill Skaggs sat in silence.

"Is

there a motion" Riley asked again. Blank stares.

Several school officials, neighborhood leaders and parents spoke in favor of Schools First. Martha Edmunds, a member of the Park Hill District PTA, described the treacherous conditions caused by a lack of sidewalks around Southeast Elementary. Park Hill Superintendent Dennis Fisher said the district discourages children from walking to school.

Whatever its merits, Schools First lacked the necessary political momentum. After the ordinance failed to advance, Funkhouser told reporters he was going to pause, think and come back with alternative path.

Funkhouser had hoped that voters would consider the Schools First question in August. Ordinances need to pass the full council by next Thursday to appear on the August 3 ballot.

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