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No Cost Covid Testing

Kansas City Public Schools is partnering with the Mid-America Regional Council, KC Cares, Samuel U. Rogers Health Center and Swope Health to offer no-cost COVID-19 testing for KCPS staff, students, families and community members.

KCPS Celebrates Church As Community Champion

The Kansas City Public Schools Board of Directors and Superintendent Mark Bedell honored Friendship Baptist Church as a Community Champion during a School Board meeting on Wednesday evening, Dec. 9.

KCPS Taps Trio As Terrific Teammates

The Kansas City Public Schools Board of Directors and Superintendent Mark Bedell recognized the following staff members as Terrific Teammates during a School Board meeting Wednesday evening, Dec. 9.

KCPS Honors Six Students As Scholar Superstars

The Kansas City Public Schools Board of Directors and Superintendent Mark Bedell recognized the following students as Scholar Superstars during a virtual School Board meeting Wednesday evening, Dec. 10.

KCPS Seeking Feedback from Families with Thoughtexchange

We want to stay connected and hear your questions and ideas about how we should move forward during this pandemic and in this educational landscape. With that in mind, we're asking KCPS families for five minutes today and another five minutes tomorrow to help us plan for the future. Please join our “Thoughtexchange” today to share your thoughts and questions.

Pivot International Donates 7,000 Shields to KCPS

Pivot International, a Lenexa, KS-based global leader in product design, development, and manufacturing, has partnered with Kansas City Public Schools to enhance maximal protection for students and staff with a gift of 7,000 safety shields.

KCPS Board of Education (BOE)

The Kansas City Public Schools IT support team is changing their hours of operation for walk-in support to 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Monday through Friday at the BOE building, which is located at 2901 Troost Ave. in Kansas City, MO.

Lincoln Middle Debate Takes Tourney Title

The Lincoln Middle School debate team successfully made the case for being among the best in the region with a first-place finish in the DEBATE Kansas City (DKC) tournament held virtually on Thursday evening, Dec.3.

Tax Incentives



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We cannot do this work alone, and appreciate the opportunity to share ways community members can learn about and support Kansas City Public Schools. To be included in our advocacy e-News, please contact Senior Policy Strategist, Kathleen Pointer, to be added to our policy-focused mailing list.

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By the Numbers - Incentives in Kansas City

Number17 with school building in background

Kansas City Public Schools is ranked 17 among 5,600 school districts in the level of abated property tax revenue

38 Million Dollars

Abated from Kansas City Public Schools & charter schools in 2020


24 percent with school building in background

$38M of abatements is equal to 24% of the current local property tax revenues that KCPS/charters collect ($160 Million). This is significantly higher than best practice recommends (no more than 10%).

Maintenance vs Taxes

Tax incentives can be a valuable tool for cities and states to attract and grow businesses and to promote redevelopment in distressed neighborhoods. However, without proper controls and oversights, they can also be harmful to communities due to the loss of potential public revenues.

In 2020 alone, more than $188 million of tax revenues were abated or redirected within Kansas City, MO.

While some of these tax revenues would not have been generated if the incentives were not granted, Kansas City, MO, offers longer terms of tax incentives (up to 25 years) and at higher levels (up to 75-100%) than most peer communities. This raises concerns that the City is over-incentivizing many projects, thereby diverting critical resources away from schools, libraries, infrastructure and other public services.


For example, if KCMO granted a business 25 years of property tax abatement to construct a new building, but it really only needed 15 years of abatement in order to make the project financially feasible, this means that schools, libraries and other public entities missed out on 10 years of tax revenues that could have helped fund school renovations, teacher salaries, mental health services, etc. Now think about this issue multiplied by hundreds of projects over the years.

KCPS, which has more than $400 million of deferred maintenance for its school sites, cannot afford to over-incentive private development. Therefore, KCPS is partnering with other local school districts to advocate for meaningful incentive reform (see below for our reform recommendations).

How are incentive decisions made in Kansas City?

  • Tax incentives are granted through seven different programs, making it difficult to monitor all the incentive activities, raising concerns about transparency and accountability.
  • The City Council has the final say over what incentives will be granted for some programs (TIF, EEZ, 353, Ch100).
  • For the others (PIEA, PortKC, LCRA), mayoral-appointed, non-elected boards grant the incentives.
    • In many cases, these mayoral-appointed boards have granted up to 25 years of tax abatement even when the affected school district and other taxing entities (libraries, mental health fund, counties, etc) voice concerns or oppose the requested incentive level
  • KCPS and other school districts have ZERO authority over decisions to grant property tax abatements


The Cooperating School Districts of Greater Kansas City, including KCPS, have identified several key incentive reforms that are needed to bring accountability, transparency and greater equity to economic development in Kansas City, Missouri.

These reform recommendations include:

  1. School districts and non-city taxing entities should have the ability to opt-in on projects seeking incentives in excess of 10 years @ 50% 
  2. Ensure consistent and equitable process for all school districts (Process counts!)
  3. Reforms should apply to all incentive programs
  4. Implement targeted efforts to address barriers to eastside development

For detailed information on the above reform recommendations, please see the Cooperating School Districts of Greater Kansas City’s proposal.

In August of 2019, Kansas City Public Schools submitted a letter with incentive reform recommendations to the current City Council. To see that letter, please click here.

KCPS does not oppose the use of incentives. When incentives are used appropriately, everyone in the City benefits. But we do want to make sure that school districts and other taxing entities are partners in all decision-making that impacts our tax revenues.

Do other cities/states limit the impact of incentives on school districts and/or provide them the ability to opt-in or opt-out of incentive deals?

Yes, some examples:

  • Kansas: School Districts have to sign on to Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plans
  • Ohio: School District approval is required for TIFs over 10 years @ 75%
  • Louisiana: School Districts and other Taxing Jurisdictions must opt-in for incentives to be granted through their largest incentive program
  • California: School district revenues are not impacted by Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts (cities must gain approvals from other Taxing Jurisdictions if they want to abate their tax revenues)
  • Minnesota: two of three Taxing Jurisdictions (city, county, school district) must approve plans that last longer than 15 years
  • Multiple other cities grant shorter abatement terms: Indianapolis, Chicago, Tulsa, San Antonio, Philadelphia, Omaha, Des Moines

Why is incentive use an equity issue?

Net Tax Abatement per Student for School Districts in KCMO in FY 18-19

Tax Abatement per Student for School Districts in KCMO in FY 18-19
  • IMPACT: Urban school districts see their dollars abated at a higher level per student than suburban districts do.
  • LOCATION: Within Kansas City Public School boundaries, the majority of projects receiving incentives have been in non-distressed areas. In addition, 92 percent of the abated property values within KCPS boundaries are West of Troost.
  • PROCESS: KCPS and other taxing jurisdictions south of the river are not consulted in a meaningful way in evaluating incentive requests. Conversely, Northland School Districts are often brought to the table during negotiations. This often results in Northland Districts being able to secure lower incentive levels and/or higher payments for schools
    • Park Hill School District’s payments from developers (e.g. PILOTs) were nearly 40 percent of the abatement level. North Kansas City School District’s payments from developers were more than 10 percent of the abatement level.
    • For KCPS, it’s only 4.5 percent. For Hickman Mills, it’s only 2.2 percent.
PILOTS explained with balloons

To read more about KCPS’ concerns regarding equity and development, please see Superintendent Dr. Mark Bedell’s statement about a project seeking continued property tax abatement.

Net Tax Abatements By District Per Student and District Demographics (FY 18-19)

tax abatements per district per demographics

Incentives in the News

KC company threatened to leave Missouri without more incentives. Now it’s staying put (KC Star, December 2020)

‘I say let them leave’: Kansas City rejects incentive deal labeled ‘systemically racist’ (Kansas City Star, June 2020)

Developers still pushing luxury hotel even as KC’s tourism market craters (Kansas City Star, June 2020)

Kansas City, Missouri, Schools superintendent blasts incentive deal for construction company as ‘systemically racist’ (KCUR, June 2020)

After compromise with Kansas City schools, Waddell & Reed will get fewer tax breaks to move downtown (KCUR, Dec. 2019)

Neighbors, schools say Cerner deal hasn’t met promise to revitalize south Kansas City (Kansas City Star, Nov. 2019)

KC invested $175 million in development subsidies in 2018. The return is a mixed bag. (Kansas City Star, Aug. 2019)

The new math in school finance (Good Jobs First, Dec. 2018)

Incentive reform measure inspires long debate but no vote by KC Council (Sept. 2016)