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The History of our Public Schools
Wyandotte County, Kansas




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Area Vocational Technical School

ATS Homepage


Wyandotte West - Sept 4, 2003
Strictly Business by Deborah Reynolds, ATS Public Information Coordinator

Manual training was established in the Kansas City, Kansas school system in the early nineteen hundreds.   In 1917, Congress passed the Smith-Hughes Act, called by some the "landmark in advance of federal centralization in education."  It created a Federal Board for Vocational Education to promote training in agriculture, trades, industrial commerce, home economics, and the teaching of vocational subjects.  State or local boards had to match any grant received for such work.  Later the act was extended to include vocational rehabilitation and other aspects of such training. 

In 1968, the Kansas City, Kansas School Board approved the formation of the Area Vocational Technical School to meet the needs of the community for technical skill training.

By August of that year, nine AVTS classes were meeting in rented buildings along Minnesota, State and Washington Boulevard.  Under the guidance of Harry Falgren, director, and his assistant, Dale Myers, the school expanded.

In May of 1971, many of the training programs were moved into the first phase of the current four-building campus at 59th and Parallel.  This land was once farmed by the Breedlove family.

In 1999, technical schools in Kansas were moved from under the State Board of Education to the governance of the Board of Regents.  In keeping with state and national trends, the AVTS is now known as the Area Technical School.

Through the years the staff has been blessed with great long-time educators such as Bob Tompkins, Hal Shute, Joe Jennings, Buck Jobe, Karen Vaughn, Ada Williams, Bill McGivern Sr., Charlotte Cassidy, Pat Hoover, Margaret Lee Sims, Marge Grafke, Max Theel, Frank Burris, Rosemary Daniels, Fran Graham, Charles Terry and many more.  Thousands of graduates in our community have successful careers because of the quality training they received here.

What started as a few classes is now a multi-million dollar operation that serves the metropolitan Kansas City Area and draws students from most of Eastern Kansas.  Nearly 700 high school seniors and post-secondary students are currently enrolled in 23 different skilled training programs during the day.

More than 1,200 adults participate in more than 100 night continuing education classes each semester.  Special customized training courses are arranged on request for local businesses, large and small.

On Wednesday, October 1, the Area Technical School will celebrate its 35th birthday with an open house and fair at the school.  Past and present students, staff, family, friends and the public will be invited to attend.

By touring the classrooms, visitors will get a chance to see displays of technical education at work and also register for continuing education scholarships and other prizes.

ATS Graduation Class Listings


1963 - Kansas State Legislature passed legislation establishing formation of a State-Wide System of Area Vocational Technical Schools.

1965 - State Board of Education approved Kansas City AVTS

1967 - Land purchased at 59th and Parallel for new high school (F.L. Schlagle), the Vocational-Technical School and transportation center. (32+ acres)

1968 - KCK Board of Education establishes AVTS as part of system. First and second year of operation was in rented buildings in downtown KCK area. Housed in four buildings: 1015 State Avenue, 1230 Minnesota Avenue, 831 Minnesota Avenue and 1033 Argentine Boulevard.

1968-69 - Moved program at 1033 Argentine Boulevard to 1122 North 8th Street.

1971 - First unit of AVTS facility built at 2220 North 59th. Programs included electronics, business, radio-TV repair, practical nursing, printing and drafting.

May: Moved programs at 831 and 1230 Minnesota Avenue to new facility.

1973 - Expanded part of operation to a section of the Argentine Middle School and 820 Cheyenne.

Started special dropout prevention program at Harmon High School . To provide special career education information, cooperative job station and individualized help for other academic classes. ( See Career Learning Center )

1975 - June: Four new cooperative programs in area high schools.

July: Manpower Training Development Act (MDTA) operations merged with AVTS (buildings at 1333 Washington Boulevard and 1033 Argentine Boulevard).

September: Offered vocational training programs at the men's and women's prison at the request of the Department of Corrections.

1976 - January: Operation at 1033 Argentine Boulevard discontinued.

1978 - Dropout program moved from Harmon to 3037 State Avenue (former Kroger grocery store). Now offered to all senior high schools in the district.

Special vocations cooperative program started for special education students served by Wyandotte County Special Cooperative. To serve as evaluation center and long-term training for special education students.

1979 - November. Additional building (building 2) constructed. Programs at 1015 State, 8th and Nebraska, and 820 Cheyenne moved and most rented facilities closed. Programs: machine shop, welding, auto mechanics, truck repair, body shop, auto parts, cosmetology, food service.

Food Service, welding, machine shop, automotive shop and parts counterman programs moved from 1333 Washington Boulevard. Cosmetology program moved from 3037 State.

1981 - South building (Building 3) completed; houses heating and refrigeration, building trades, building maintenance, industrial mechanics and commercial arts.

Another building proposed to house cosmetology and child day care program.

1987 - Building 4 completed; houses cosmetology and child care facilities.

1999 - Changed name to Kansas City Area Technical School.

2003 - October 1 - 35th Year celebration at school. Open house and fair.

2004 - Phase IV of the KCKs Public Schools $120 million bond issue includes:  Banneker, Cemtral, McKinley and Quindaro Elementary Schools, Harmon High School and the Area Technical School (ATS).  Central and McKinley will reopen to student enrollment in the Fall of 2004.  The other buildings, which previously had air conditioning, will receive upgrades to their heating and cooling systems, as well as minimal energy updates on windows and exteriors.  The last buildings to receive upgrades include the Main Branch Library, Central Office and the Shop.

2008-09 - School now used by KCKs Community College. No longer an votec school for USD 500. The District's preschool was held here until the new one opened on 55th Street in 2009-10.


1968-90 - Harry Falgren / 1990-2002 - John Lind / 2002-2006 - John Stevenson / 2006 - Barbara Schilling

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Contact the History Webmaster - Patricia Adams

History Site created on December 02, 2002
Page last updated: 02-Jan-2012

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