Kansas City schools to pay singer $15,000 to perform for educat

Saturday, August 9, 2003

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- At least one school board member thinks it's a bad idea for the Kansas City School District to pay $15,000 for a singer to perform at a back-to-school bash for educators.

Oleta Adams, who lives in the Kansas City area, will perform at the Aug. 18 convocation at Community of Christ Auditorium in Independence.

District officials said the event is to honor educators and start the school year off with a positive attitude.

School board member Duane Kelly, a former teacher in the district, said it's a bad idea to spend that much money on a concert.

"Fifteen thousand dollars would buy 600 books at $25 apiece," Kelly said. "There's about 75 schools. That's about eight books per school in the library. There are different ways of doing things. I'm more inclined to go with books that will last for years than this sort of thing."

District spokesman Edwin Birch, who organized the convocation, said the tough times make an inspirational staff gathering even more important.

"We have to make sure we keep people's morale up," he said. "I think Oleta Adams is classy. Having her sing for our teachers speaks volumes."

The three-hour convocation is expected to cost more than $20,000, including Adams' 45-minute performance, auditorium rental and buses to transport staffers to Independence. Birch said the district has received about $10,000 in donations to help defray costs.

The district has more than 3,500 employees. The first day of classes is Aug. 25.

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