The Insider Team will be providing information related to the Lee's Summit R-7 School District (LSR7) Comprehensive Facilities Master Plan (CFMP) in a number of installments to support a better community understanding of the processes followed to complete this work. This is the fourth installment.
How crowded are the high schools in LSR7 anyway?
You may remember these were the options LSR7 gave the community, including tables showing 85% program capacity, current enrollment, as well as five and ten-year enrollment projections.
As the district shows none of the options met long-term goals. Were there other options that were not included? Building a new school or renovating existing schools are options that were not given to the public. Why?
The district decided to select Option 4 (or Option Green as it was later called) which moved all of the five Winterset neighborhoods from LSW to LSHS.
This was done even though none of the high schools are over capacity and none of the options provided long-term solutions.
This was done in spite of strong public opinion that long term solutions are required for the high schools before boundaries (or kids) should be moved.
So, why did the district pull that trigger?
It could be related to the former superintendent's opinion that the boundaries should be moved based on equity and not just on capacity as Dr. Carpenter stated during the Board of Education meeting in fall 2018. #equity
We may never get to the bottom of this issue, but we can look at how the boundary options have affected current enrollment at each high school.
Clearly, the chart shows that boundary changes have not helped enrollment concerns at the high schools in the short term. Because grandfathering and student transfers delay any short-term gain created by changing high school boundaries in Lee's Summit, it is reasonable that we cannot expect a short-term impact on enrollment. It may take five years before we can accurately evaluate whether the changes were appropriate. Except... But, wait a minute...
We already knew that the district projected overcrowding in schools in five years' time in every single option they provided to the public.
So, if we did not get short-term relief and we know we are not going to get long-term relief, then what did we get with the high school boundary changes besides a headache and severe chafing?
Nothing so far.
How is the CFMP team planning to handle this issue? According to the LSR7 CFMP website, we are in the phase of the CFMP where we gauge the public interest in a no-tax-increase bond issue to be voted on in spring 2020. The listed projects that this bond issue would cover include:
Build a 4th middle school on land the district already owns near 50 Hwy and 291.
Renovate the other three existing middle schools to accommodate future-ready classroom needs and the Board-approved addition of 6th grade, beginning in the 2022-2023 school year.
Renovate Lee's Summit High School, the oldest high school in the district, to meet security and innovation needs.
Renovate one wing of Prairie View Elementary to serve as the district's second Early Childhood Center, in addition to continuing to serve elementary students.
Expand the Missouri Innovation Campus and Summit Technology Academy to increase programming offerings.
Enhance safety and security systems at all buildings, particularly at the building entrances.
Expand Mason Elementary School to meet security and capacity needs in the growing northeastern part of the district.
Renovate and upgrade all remaining schools in the district, beginning with the oldest buildings.
Given that it is LSW that is in need of expansion, it is disappointing to see that there is no plan to renovate that school. Perhaps there is some good reason that we cannot build onto LSW; however, it is certainly something that the public routinely requested during Phase I of the CFMP. With any luck, we are not too late to truly understand what is possible on that campus as the residential building on the west side of the city is not slowing, yet LSW is the smallest high school in town.
Perhaps the Board should ask potential candidates for LSR7 Superintendent to address this topic during the interview process.
Speaking of which...stay tuned!
*To see a summary of the CFMP #2 community survey results as well as comments, visit this site's Downloadables page or click here.