Bond issue focus: New middle school, high school upgrade
On April 7, Lee’s Summit residents will vote on a bond issue that could help open new doors for sixth graders in middle school.
The no-tax-increase bond issue would be worth $224 million in capital projects for the Lee’s Summit R-7 district. The construction of a fourth middle school is among the large projects, which also include an $80 overhaul at Lee’s Summit High School and a $9 million new early education center.
The district currently has three middle schools housing seventh and eighth graders. If the bond issue passes and a new middle school is funded, all sixth graders in Lee’s Summit R-7 would move from elementary school to middle school starting in fall 2022. The three existing middle schools would also get extensive renovations to help facilitate the change.
Katy Bergen, executive director of public relations at Lee’s
Summit R-7 School District, says the move is part of a comprehensive facilities master plan which addresses various future challenges for the district, like projected growth in attendance.
“This has been a very strategic process that goes back more than a year,” Bergen said.
School board members have already approved the move of sixth grade to middle school. While the decision will result in extra classroom space at district elementary buildings, the main reason for the move is to provide both academic and social advantages for students. Sixth graders will be able to take more electives earlier and will have more time at middle school.
“We wanted to make middle school more of a home for students,” Bergen said.
Some of the space left behind by sixth graders will be repurposed to help even younger learners. If the bond issue passes, the district will construct a new early childhood development center at Prairie View Elementary.
The Great Beginnings Early
Education center, which serves preschoolers, currently operates at capacity. The district uses satellite classrooms at several elementary schools to meet the needs of area preschoolers. The $9 million renovation at Prairie View would provide a central location for these services.
“Prairie View is a good school for that. It has a different set up. It was built as two elementary schools,” Bergen said.
The cost for planned renovations at Lee’s Summit High School are projected to exceed the cost of a new middle school. The $80 million project will connect several buildings at the school with a “spine” corridor. It would add 50,000 square feet of interior space to the campus and eliminate the need for students to walk outside between classes.
“It’s a safety issue for students,” Bergen said. “It gets really crowded. I think students like walking outdoors when the weather is nice, but when the weather is not nice, it’s a challenge.”
The high school would also get a new facade facing 50 Highway, a new media center, staff collaboration rooms, project-based learning space and meeting centers. Construction would take place over 2.5 years. The school will not close during the renovation.
Also included on the list of projects to be funded by the passage of the bond issue include safety and security upgrades throughout the district; an addition and renovation to Mason Elementary School; and improvements to the district’s high school athletic facilities and stadiums.
The last no-tax-increase bond issue for Lee’s Summit Schools passed in 2015. Among other facility improvements, the 2015 vote funded construction of the Missouri Innovation Campus.
WE WANTED TO MAKE MIDDLE SCHOOL MORE OF A HOME FOR STUDENTS.
Katy Bergen, executive director of public relations at Lee’s Summit R-7 School District
A no-tax-increase bond issue would be worth $224 million in capital projects for the Lee’s Summit R-7 district. The construction of a fourth middle school is among the large projects.