Maria Benevento

Maria Benevento

Maria Benevento is the education reporter at The Kansas City Beacon. She is a Report for America corps member.

School hallway lockers

Kansas City Public Schools face grievances from maintenance and cafeteria workers’ union

By: - November 21, 2023

In a matter of months, the union representing maintenance, custodial and cafeteria workers at Kansas City Public Schools went from a cordial relationship with the district to filing seven class-action grievances. The grievances include allegations that the district hasn’t delivered all raises laid out in the latest labor contract, has disciplined workers for using leave […]

Kansas City Public Schools won’t arm officers in elementary schools after community feedback

By: - November 13, 2023

Applause broke out at a Kansas City Public Schools advisory committee meeting on Wednesday when an employee announced the district was moving away from a proposal to add armed officers to elementary schools. In the end, district administrators heard too much opposition to putting more guns on school grounds — even in the holsters of […]

Families who rely on interpreters find Kansas City area schools can come up short

By: - September 12, 2023

After students pulled her fifth-grade daughter’s hair, hit and groped her, Wendy Rodas asked to talk with higher-ups in the Center School District. The Spanish-speaking mother hoped the meeting would help resolve the bullying. But technical difficulties with the district’s phone interpretation service nearly derailed the conversation. If she hadn’t brought along bilingual staff members […]

Some Missouri school districts still struggle to recruit substitute teachers

By: - June 9, 2023

The state has collected more than 73,000 survey responses that reflect details such as who is substitute teaching in Missouri public schools, what they’re paid and where they work. The data, released Wednesday by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, may not offer a clear reason why some school districts struggle to recruit […]

What schools closing in Kansas City means for children, families and neighborhoods

By: - May 23, 2023

Teachers and staff at Genesis School in Kansas City have tried to maintain a normal school year despite an unusual situation: They don’t know whether students will return in the fall. That’s because the K-8 charter school’s sponsor, the Missouri Charter Public School Commission, wants to shut it down over its academic performance. The State […]

Kansas City’s historic northeast pushes back against proposed school closures

By: - November 29, 2022

This story was originally published by the Kansas City Beacon.  Gregg Lombardi estimates the Lykins neighborhood in northeast Kansas City is on track to win the battle against blight by next year. The Lykins Neighborhood Association and Neighborhood Legal Support of Kansas City, both of which Lombardi directs, have been working to support residents and make abandoned homes […]

Proposal to close 10 schools in Kansas City, improve academics hinges on community support

By: - October 17, 2022

This story was originally published by the Kansas City Beacon.  Kansas City Public Schools is proposing a far-reaching reorganization that would close 10 schools, build or expand others and — leaders say — free up funds for academic goals. But the district knows that the plan could tank without community support. Disgruntled families could leave. […]

Schools for sale: What happens to Kansas City Public Schools buildings after they close

By: - July 11, 2022

This story was originally published by The Kansas City Beacon.  Askew Elementary School has been vacant for more than a decade. The inside shows signs of the nearly 100-year-old building’s age and long disuse. Walls are peeling, debris litters the floor and some classroom ceiling panels have fallen. To enter the former school for a July […]

William Jewell has two groups doing slavery research. Some say that’s a problem

By: - May 4, 2022

This story was originally published by The Kansas City Beacon.  William Jewell College brands itself as “The Critical Thinking College.” Three “key questions” are central to the curriculum of the Liberty, Missouri, institution: What is real? What can we know? How should we live? But as a student- and faculty-led group called the Slavery, Memory and Justice Project applied critical […]

Student Wearing Mask in Classroom

More than 120 K-12 education bills already filed for 2022 Missouri legislative session

By: - December 20, 2021

This story was originally published by the Kansas City Beacon. During the past year, concerns about COVID policies, critical race theory and controversial books have highlighted tensions in public education. In addition, the pandemic has exacerbated teacher shortages and increased calls for “school choice” for families — which could include charter schools, virtual schools or state […]

Scholarships, guns, teaching about racism: Missouri higher education bills to watch

By: - December 17, 2021

This story was originally published by the Kansas City Beacon. Expanding state financial aid programs, banning COVID-19 vaccine requirements on campus, and restricting lessons about racism and sexism are just some of the topics of higher education laws being proposed in the Missouri legislature. The next legislative session starts Jan. 5, but representatives and senators  […]

Student Wearing Mask in Classroom

Can you live on retirement benefits as a Kansas or Missouri teacher? It depends

By: - October 18, 2021

This story was first published by The Kansas City Beacon. As local school systems are dealing with a teacher shortage, a new report ranks Missouri and Kansas in the bottom half of the pack nationally when it comes to state educator retirement programs. But a teachers union representative and the director of Missouri’s retirement program […]