LSR7 Board of Education places no tax rate increase bond issue on April 7 ballot
The Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education approved placement of a no tax rate increase bond issue on the April 7 ballot following the recommendation of a community team. The $224 million bond includes construction of a new middle school, school renovations and improvements, conversion of part of an existing elementary school into an early education center and safety and security upgrades.
Board members approved the bond issue by a 7-0 vote at their Jan. 23 regular monthly meeting.
The bond issue is the result of an approximately 18-month facility needs study that involved both the Comprehensive Facilities Master Plan Team and the Citizens’ Advisory Committee. District officials also gathered feedback from the community through engagement events as well as surveys.
The bond issue is designed to make room for enrollment growth, provide enhanced learning opportunities for students and address parity issues between older and newer schools while also improving safety and security at all schools. Over the next 10 years, Lee’s Summit R-7 enrollment is expected to increase by close to 1,500 students.
Components of the bond issue are listed below including approximate costs for each project.
- Upgrading safety and security at all LSR7 schools such as improved surveillance cameras, upgraded access control system, a new hard keying system and playground fencing at selected school sites. Approximate cost: $3 million. NOTE: Several of the following bond issue projects also include components that impact the safety of students, staff and visitors.
- Comprehensive renovations and additions at Lee’s Summit High School in order to centralize resources, better connect this large campus and add a new, more modern face to the western and southern entrances. The improvements are designed to provide parity between the district’s original high school and the two more recently constructed schools. Approximate cost: $80 million.
- Construction of a new approximately 1,200-student middle school to be located on land currently owned by the district and located near Bailey Road and Hamblen Road in southeastern Lee’s Summit. With the opening of this school, scheduled for August 2022 if the bond is approved, sixth-graders will transition from the elementary schools into middle schools renovated to serve sixth through eighth grades. Approximate cost: $72 million.
- Renovations at the district’s existing three middle schools to transition them from seventh- and eighth-grade schools to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade buildings. This transition was recommended by team of LSR7 staff, parents, students and community members last year following a comprehensive study. The team’s recommendation focused on additional learning and engagement opportunities for sixth-graders including elective and exploratory courses as well as co-curricular activities. With the transition to middle-school programming, educators will be able to provide these young adolescents with more social-emotional support during this crucial development stage as well as enhanced academic opportunities. Moving sixth-graders will also give elementary schools additional capacity for anticipated enrollment growth. Approximate cost: $25 million.
- Expansion and renovation of Mason Elementary School including an addition and interior renovations. Mason Elementary’s original section was built in 1942, and the school is under-sized when compared to the district’s elementary standard. Approximate cost: $16 million.
- A second LSR7 early education center created by renovating the north side of Prairie View Elementary, the district’s largest elementary school. Approximate cost: $9 million.
- Activity/athletic facility renovations at all three high schools including a new baseball/softball complex for LSHS , turf replacement, track resurfacing and stadium improvements at all three schools. LSHS baseball and softball teams currently practice and play their games off-site at Legacy Park. The school’s new baseball/softball complex would be located at the fourth middle school. Approximate cost: $19 million.
“We are looking forward to sharing more information about this ballot issue with our community,” said Dr. Emily Miller, LSR7 interim superintendent. “The issue includes improvements to all schools by providing much-needed learning spaces for preschoolers, increasing enrollment capacity at the elementary schools, offering more engagement opportunities to sixth-graders as they become adolescents and making safety and other improvements throughout our district.”
The comprehensive renovation of Lee’s Summit High School will address the parity issues between the three high schools, she added. Lee’s Summit High School’s two major buildings were constructed in 1951 and 1963 while Lee’s Summit North opened in 1995 and Lee’s Summit West opened in 2004.
“We are really excited about having the opportunity to bring all three of our outstanding high school facilities to the same standard,” Dr. Miller said, “and be able to have a more consistent feel across all three.”
Board of Education members praised the high level of community involvement and the value of staff and citizen feedback throughout this facility planning process at their Jan. 23 meeting.
“On behalf of the Board of Education, I want to thank the hundreds of staff and community members who volunteered to serve on district teams, attended community engagement events and took the time to participate in our surveys,” said Julie Doane, Board of Education president. “Your time and feedback was especially valuable as we worked together to develop this student-focused bond issue.”
By law, voter-approved bond funds are restricted to capital improvements such as new schools, building renovations and maintenance. Money included in bond issues may only be used for the designated projects listed in the actual ballot language. Operating costs such as staffing, employee salaries and classroom supplies cannot be covered by a bond issue.
The April 7 ballot question is the first bond issue presented to voters since the district’s voter-approved April 2015 bond, also a no tax rate issue. This April 2020 bond issue will require a four-sevenths majority for approval.
Information about the bond issue is available on the district’s webpage at lsr7.org. Throughout the next couple of months, school district officials will be providing more comprehensive information about this topic as well as offering presentations to interested organizations. For more information, you may also contact the district’s Public Relations Department at (816) 986-1014 or submit questions at the district’s contact us webpage.
The deadline to register to vote for the April election is March 11.