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Hundreds of Lee’s Summit students will change schools after new boundaries approved

The Lee’s Summit Board of Education has approved boundary changes for its schools and made recommendations for future improvements.
The Lee’s Summit Board of Education has approved boundary changes for its schools and made recommendations for future improvements.

After a months-long discussion with patrons, the Lee’s Summit Board of Education has approved boundary changes that will take effect next fall, affecting 369 elementary students and 386 secondary students.

The secondary students, who live south of Chipman Road on the western edge of the district, would move into the attendance area for Pleasant Lea Middle School and Lee’s Summit High School. They are now in the area of Lee’s Summit West High School and Summit Lakes Middle School, both of which face overcrowding because of growth in the southwest corner of the district.

The largest number of affected elementary students would move to Trailridge Elementary School. Other elementary schools receiving affected students are Underwood, Summit Pointe and Cedar Creek.

The school board made its unanimous decision on Dec. 13, with an additional stipulation that current eighth-grade students with siblings in 10th or 11th grades can ask to attend high school with those brothers and sisters. Other “grandfathering” provisions allow certain students at certain grade levels to finish in their current schools.

School officials thanked those involved in the planning and community members who weighed in with ideas.

“Our team listened and used that feedback to help us in our decision-making process. There was much goodwill involved and we hope our community feels the good faith effort to move forward in a collaborative manner,” said Phyllis Balagna, Board of Education president.

In approving the recommendation, the board also authorized administrators to undertake more planning in areas such as:

▪ Future school construction — along with renovations and additions — in a district that’s expected to grow by 1,620 students in the next decade.

“The 2018 enrollment data ... articulates a clear message; there is a need for new construction within the next one to five years to address capacity issues,” the recommendation stated.

Discussion also has focused on modernizing older buildings so learning opportunities are more equal throughout the district.

Based on those needs, the district says it will likely put a bond issue before voters in 2020.

▪ The best option for sixth-graders.

“The district needs to evaluate the instructional and social/emotional benefits of moving sixth grade into the middle school setting,” the recommendation stated.

The sixth-grade decision will affect construction, too. If sixth-graders stay where they are, the district would need two more elementary schools. Another option is to move the sixth grade out of elementary school and build a fourth middle school.

▪ The potential for expanding career and technical education offerings, including the trades.

▪ Initiatives such year-round schools, theme-based schools and early childhood education, which have “high-yield outcomes for students.”

▪ The best option for the English Learners program, which has grown from 145 to 502 students since 2012. Those students are now sent to three elementary schools, one middle school and one high school.

“This approach ... is becoming unsustainable due to the increased enrollment,” the recommendation stated.

In a recent survey, the district said, 78 percent of English Learner parents favored English education in the child’s home school.

The complete recommendation can be found at www.lsr7.org/cfmp.

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