Lee's Summit Journal

Community invited to share opinions about future of Lee’s Summit R-7 school facilities

Students (from left) Nia Phillips, senior; Caleb Kratt, senior; Sadie Rann, senior; and Isabella Christie, junior.
Students (from left) Nia Phillips, senior; Caleb Kratt, senior; Sadie Rann, senior; and Isabella Christie, junior. Special to the Journal

Throughout this school year, Lee’s Summit School District officials are developing a plan to address school facility needs for both new and older schools. The process emphasizes community engagement, with students, staff members and citizens invited to share their opinions by attending meetings, completing surveys and providing input via social media.

Known as the Comprehensive Facility Master Plan, the document’s purpose is to “envision how physical space can be designed to support instructional needs, to transform learning opportunities and to help build productive citizens who are competitive in a changing workforce and economy,” said Emily Miller, the district’s assistant superintendent of operational services.

The school district is among the largest in the Kansas City metropolitan area, with enrollment continuing to increase. The district’s 28 schools currently house approximately 18,033 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, up from 17,630 in 2013-’14. By 2023, the district’s enrollment is projected to be at 19,040.

Citizens may share their thoughts throughout the fall by participating in three online surveys, attending a series of engagement meetings and by using #R7FutureReady within social media. Questions about the process and feedback may also be submitted at https://contact.lsr7.org/cfmp.

The facility plan will seek to address school needs related to current enrollment and school capacities, projected student growth and possible changes to existing classrooms and other learning spaces. Earlier this summer, the district’s school board approved goals for this school year with one priority focusing on “equitable access to future-ready learning environments” for all students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. This board priority also emphasized engagement of stakeholders in development of the district’s Comprehensive Facility Master Plan.

“Future-ready spaces are a departure from the traditional classroom structure with four walls and rows of desks,” Miller said. “Rather, space is designed to be student-centered, flexible and foster personalized learning. Classroom design and furniture provides opportunities for large group, small group or independent learning.”

Instructional experiences are not limited to the traditional classroom and can occur anywhere, Miller added.

“Throughout the pre-kindergarten through grade 12 system, there is an emphasis on STEAM education, and technology is utilized as a powerful resource to learning,” she said. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics.

The plan will also incorporate impacts on energy efficiency, safety, next-generation design and student well-being.

Lee’s Summit R-7 officials are working with three partner organizations to develop the facility plan including DLR Group and Gould Evans, both architectural firms, and LINK Strategic Partners, a national communications and stakeholder engagement company.

The plan may include attendance boundary adjustments to existing schools, according to the district’s website, although no boundary decisions have been made at this time. If boundary adjustments are included in the plan, they could take place as soon as the 2019-20 school year.

Individuals are invited to attend community engagement meetings offered in a three-part series at a variety of locations. The first series, which focuses on “big picture” priority items, includes meetings on Sept. 10, 11, 12 and 13. The second series is offered Oct. 8, 9, 10 and 11 and will include recommendations identified by the district’s planning and architectural partners as well as short- and medium-term facility adjustments. During the final series, scheduled for Nov. 5, 6, 7 and 8, the partners will present refined recommendations based on community input along with a long-term vision for school facilities. All community meetings will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at various school sites. For a list of meeting locations as well as more information about the facility plan and community input process, visit https://www3.lsr7.org/cfmp/.

Also available on this website are links to three online surveys focusing on current needs, recommendations and vision. The current needs survey opened Aug. 27 and closes on Sept. 14. The recommendations survey will be available Oct. 5 through 19 with the vision survey opening Nov. 1 and closing Nov. 30.

Student feedback is being sought throughout the fall with students invited to participate in the meetings, surveys and social media engagement. In addition, members of the district’s new superintendent’s student advisory council will be sharing their opinions and serving as advisers for the planning process.

Based on the facility planning timeline, the Board of Education will begin discussing the recommendations during late 2018 and early 2019.