Lee's Summit, UCM agree to build shared educational facility

Written by Muleskinner Staff

The Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education and the University of Central Missouri board of governors recently approved an agreement to build a unique shared facility designed to serve both high school and college students, according to a news release.
UCM’s board members approved the lease agreement Dec. 13, and the R-7 board approved the agreement Dec. 18. Through the legal agreement, R-7 and UCM agree to jointly construct and operate a shared educational facility that will house R-7’s Summit Technology Academy, UCM programs currently located in the university’s Summit Center and the Missouri Innovation Campus.
“Partnerships featuring this level of involvement are considered rare among higher education and public school districts,” Dr. David McGehee, R-7 superintendent, said in a news release. “And we have been especially pleased with what has already been accomplished by working together at Missouri Innovation Campus. Through the lease agreement for the new facility, we have the opportunity to save money, trade our leased space for a facility our district will own and design a learning environment that fits the needs of today’s students and students of the future.”
The agreement is contingent upon the purchase of land for the shared facility. Both R-7 and UCM will work together on planning for the facility with both organizations approving the final design.
Through the partnership, Lee’s Summit R-7 will purchase and own the facility and UCM will pay a base rent reflecting 60 percent of the overall cost of the land purchase, financing expense, building design and construction of the facility, amortized over a 20-year lease term. UCM programs would use approximately 60 percent of the educational facility with R-7 using approximately 40 percent.
“Since opening the MIC, the university and the R-7 School District have broken new ground demonstrating innovative ways to accelerate the time it takes for students to complete a degree, provide students with job-ready skills, and help them graduate with little or no debt,” said UCM President Charles Ambrose in a news release. “We’re making tremendous progress, but we have a lot left to do. Looking toward the future, and our joint vision for expanding opportunities at the MIC, we couldn’t ask for a better partner.”
UCM and Lee’s Summit R-7 are partners with Metropolitan Community College and a number of businesses in the Missouri Innovation Campus program. The MIC is located within R-7’s Summit Technology Academy.
The Missouri Innovation Campus was launched in fall 2012 and has continued to receive regional and national recognition for dramatically reducing the time required to receive a college degree while also significantly decreasing the cost of higher education for students and their families. In summer 2013, President Barack Obama visited UCM’s Warrensburg campus, highlighting the Missouri Innovation Campus and the collaborative effort among Lee’s Summit, UCM, MCC and businesses. The program, which has received state grants, has also been touted by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon as a model partnership.
The MIC students, who attend Summit Tech during their junior and senior years of high school, earn their associate degree from MCC at approximately the same time they receive their high-school diploma. MIC students will earn a four-year bachelor’s degree from UCM just two years after high school graduation. These students graduate from college with little to no student debt while participating in high-tech paid internships.
No-tax-increase bond issue under discussion
Within the last few months, Lee’s Summit R-7 officials began discussing the possibility of including this new Summit Technology/Missouri Innovation Campus facility on an April 7, 2015, no-tax-increase bond issue. Preliminary plans call for the district to present a $40 million no-tax-increase bond issue to voters. The issue would include around $16 million for Summit Technology Academy/Missouri Innovation Campus, approximately $21 million for facility improvements and deferred maintenance at all schools and $3 million for contingencies and fees for all construction projects.
The proposed bond issue is scheduled to appear as a decision item on the R-7 Board of Education’s Jan. 22 meeting agenda. If approved by the board members, it would appear on the April 7 ballot. If endorsed by at least four-sevenths of Lee’s Summit R-7 voters, construction on the Summit Technology Academy/Missouri Innovation Campus would begin soon after the election with the new school opening in August 2017. The facility improvements and deferred maintenance projects would also begin soon after the election with the majority of projects complete by either fall 2015 or fall 2016.