LS R-7 Board of Education approves priorities for 2017-18 school year

Action items focus on student achievement, learning environments and communication

The Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education approved three district-wide priorities at the July 20 Board of Education meeting. The Board prioritized strategic action items focus on student achievement, learning environments and communication. The priorities follow.

  1. Increase the learning and achievement of every child through the development of a comprehensive academic framework informed by the needs of our students, the district’s strategic plan and the 2016 Academic Systems Review.
  2. Ensure equitable access to 21st century learning environments by engaging stakeholders in a process to update the district’s Comprehensive Facility Master Plan to meet the instructional and programming needs of all pre-K-12 students.
  3. Strengthen public trust in the district’s governance leadership team by systemically enhancing communication, involvement and collaboration to ensure constructive engagement within the school district community.

Board members will receive progress reports on the goals throughout the 2017-18 school year. Lee’s Summit R-7 administrators are assigned to oversee the goals and are creating action plans for each priority.

The priorities were developed after extensive discussion at the Board of Education’s two-day work session, held June 7 and 8. At these same work sessions, Board members created a one-page document listing norms of operation for the Board of Education and superintendent. The norms are available at this link (item 10.01 within the July 20 regular meeting). They include items such as preparation for Board meetings, confidentiality, Board of Education committee participation, communication, school visits and respect.

“The Board of Education listened to the community and put a lot of effort into self examination to develop both the priorities and the norms of operation,” said Bob White, Board of Education president. “With these priorities and the norms, I believe we are being responsive to our stakeholders as we keep moving forward.”

With the emphasis on the priorities and the norms, the Board of Education will also be operating more efficiently, Mr. White added.

“The Board and administration have worked diligently over the last several weeks to establish clear priorities for the upcoming school year.  These priorities will ensure our organization’s focus on enhancing student learning,  operational efficiency and  constructive community engagement as a means of furthering the tradition of excellence we all expect,” said Dr. Dennis L. Carpenter, superintendent. “Our goal is to keep these priorities in the forefront and keep our community informed about this important work as we make progress throughout the year.”

LS R-7 school bus mechanic captures first place in Missouri Best Technician Contest

Mike Walker, a mechanic with the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District Transportation Department, recently won first place in the annual Missouri Best Technician Competition, held during July in Columbia. The program is sponsored by the Missouri Association of Pupil Transportation.

The Missouri’s Best Technician Competition is an intense analysis of the a school bus technician’s  ability to diagnose, troubleshoot and repair various mechanical components found on school buses such as electrical systems, engines, braking systems and drive trains.

As the state’s top winner, Mr. Walker will have the opportunity to compete against the nation’s best school bus mechanics in the National Association of Pupil Transportation program, scheduled for November in Columbus, Ohio.

Three LSWHS students earn top score on ACT college admissions exam

Less than one-tenth of 1 percent earn a ‘perfect 36’

Alex Geoghegan, Allison Salamone and Molly Wooster of Lee’s Summit West High School each earned the highest possible ACT composite score of 36. On average, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of students who take the ACT earn a top score. In the U.S. high school graduating class of 2016, only 2,235 out of nearly 2.1 million graduates who took the ACT earned a composite score of 36.

Alex, a 2017-18 senior, is the son of Sean and Laura Geoghegan. He is an International Baccalaureate diploma candidate, earned academic letters each year in high school, has received  varsity letters in cross country and track the past three years and qualified for state cross country for three years. Alex is a member of LSWHS Una Voce chamber choir and has earned vocal music letters each year.

Allison, a 2017-18 junior, is the daughter of Lyn Salamone and Matt Salamone. She is an International Baccalaureate diploma candidate, attended the Missouri Scholars Academy, is a Titan Ambassador and participates in cross country, track, Kindness Council, French Honor Society, Math Club/Missouri Math League, robotics, Science Bowl and Scholar Bowl. Allison is ranked in the top 1 percent in her class, has earned academic letters each year she attended LSWHS and received the departmental award for mathematics last year. In addition, she is a member of High Voltage Cheer’s senior team and coaches for the team’s youth competition.

Molly, a 2017-18 junior, is the daughter of Jeff and Jennifer Wooster. She attended the Missouri Scholars Academy, serves as captain of the Junior Varsity Science Bowl, is vice president of the LSWHS Kindness Council, volunteers weekly at Abundant Life Church and participates in LSWHS robotics, Math Club/Missouri Math League, Spanish Honor Society and Youth Advisory Council. In addition, she is an International Baccalaureate diploma candidate.

Just a handful of Lee’s Summit R-7 students have achieved a 36 on the ACT over the past several decades. This is the first time that three R-7 students have earned the 36 within the same year.

The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science, each scored on a scale of 1 to 36. A student’s composite score is the average of the four test scores. Some students also take the optional ACT writing test, but the score for that test is reported separately and is not included within the ACT composite score.

In a letter to the recognized students, Marten Roorda, ACT chief executive officer, stated, “Your achievement on the ACT is significant and rare. While test scores are just one of multiple criteria that most colleges consider when making admission decisions, your exceptional ACT composite score should prove helpful as you pursue your education and career goals.”

ACT test scores are accepted by all major U.S. colleges. Exceptional scores of 36 provide colleges with evidence of student readiness for the academic rigors that lie ahead.

Lee’s Summit R-7 2015 no-tax-increase bond projects nearing completion

School facility improvements, new Missouri Innovation Campus are on time and within budget

Thanks to voter approval of a 2015 no-tax-increase bond issue, schools throughout Lee’s Summit R-7 are receiving facility improvements. The $40 million bond issue, approved by close to 80 percent of voters, is also funding the district’s new Missouri Innovation Campus, home of Summit Technology Academy. All school improvement projects as well as the Missouri Innovation Campus are on time and within budget.

Missouri Innovation Campus nearing completion

The new Missouri Innovation Campus, located near Ward and Tudor Road, is scheduled to open in August 2017. Construction on the new school began in March 2016 following a groundbreaking celebration. A community grand opening is scheduled for 4 p.m. Sept. 5 at the new school.

Thanks to a unique partnership with the University of Central Missouri (UCM), the school district and university are constructing and operating this cost-saving shared facility. Under the plan, Lee’s Summit R-7 is paying approximately 40 percent of the new school with UCM paying the remaining 60 percent. Based on an agreement between the two organizations, Lee’s Summit R-7 will be the sole owner of the facility which will house Summit Technology Academy and Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC) programs as well as UCM programs currently located in the UCM-Lee’s Summit facility. UCM is paying its portion through a lease agreement.

The shared facility will reduce operating expenses for the R-7 School District, allowing the district to move both the Summit Technology Academy and MIC programs from leased space into a building owned by the school district. It is anticipated that due to increased rental costs resulting from the expiration of a long-running tax abatement, Lee’s Summit R-7 will save approximately $9 million over the next 20 years by construction of the new facility.

School renovation and maintenance projects continue on schedule

Approximately half of the $40 million bond issue is funding numerous school improvements in the areas of classroom instruction, safety and security, health and wellness, ADA access renovations and special education. Also included are maintenance projects designed to protect the district’s investment in its schools as well as playground safety upgrades for all elementary schools’ soft play areas and replacement of deteriorated play equipment. Numerous improvement projects were completed during summer 2015 and summer 2016. The majority of the remaining projects will be finished by the start of school in August with just a few projects wrapping up during fall 2017.

The school improvements, maintenance projects and playground upgrades are positively impacting all 28 Lee’s Summit R-7 schools. A few examples of the many school improvements are classroom renovations at Lee’s Summit High School, entry security improvements at Lee’s Summit North High School, a concession/restroom building at the Lee’s Summit West High School softball/baseball complex, a gym addition and classroom renovations at Mason Elementary, classroom and art classroom renovations at Lee’s Summit Elementary and a kitchen and cafeteria renovation at Hazel Grove Elementary.

Examples of school maintenance funded by the bond are flooring, carpet, ceilings, painting, roofing, paving, mechanical, doors, windows, door FOBS, backflows, water sanitizing and masonry.

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The new Missouri Innovation Campus will open in August.

LS R-7 featured in Google for Education national online magazine

The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District was among seven educational organizations featured in “The Keyword,” a national blog focusing on successful use of Chromebooks and Google tools for education. The seven organizations are included among a number of “Impact Portraits,” developed during a 16-month investigation by the Evergreen Education Group.

The Evergreen Education Group discussed educational strategies and tools with more than 100 school leaders from six countries to develop the case studies. Each study included key factors that helped schools and students flourish when adopting technology for the classroom, including planning, professional learning, patience and support.

The June 2017 blog featured Lee’s Summit R-7’s move to one-to-one student Chromebooks. During August 2015, the local district gave a Chromebook to each of its approximately 17,500 students from kindergarten through senior high school. Known as Connect2Learn, the one-to-one program has increased learning opportunities for students and leveled the playing field for students from a variety of family incomes.

The students use the Chromebooks at school, at home or wherever a WiFi hotspot is available. District staff members have been working with internet providers to help families obtain low cost internet service. Lee’s Summit R-7 also maintains a website mapping businesses that support R-7 students by offering free internet hotspots.

By providing each student the Chromebooks, students have the opportunity for more personalized and more innovative learning experiences. Staff members, students and families have all been enthusiastic about the move to one-to-one digital devices.

In addition, Lee’s Summit R-7 used BrightBytes CASE exams to measure results from the one-to-one implementation. These exams showed increased in all four measures of the test after Connect2Learn’s first year. The test measures classroom, access, skills and environment.

Lee’s Summit CARES provides parenting classes and other resources for families

Raising children from birth to adulthood is a remarkable undertaking, especially considering that newborns do not arrive with operating instructions. Lee’s Summit CARES, partnering with ReDiscover and the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, have partnered for 18 years to provide parents with courses and other resources to enhance the lives of area families.

Since this partnership began in 1999, more than 4,500 parents have participated in Parenting with Love and Logic classes and workshops with approximately 1,800 adults attending the organization’s Parent University. Love and Logic classes include a course tailored for parents of children from birth through age 6, a class designed for parents of children of all ages and sessions targeted for parents of tweens and teens. Mini workshops on topics such as the teenage brain, raising responsible children, conflict resolution and stress management are also available. Area businesses and schools are invited to host the mini workshops.

In addition to the parenting courses, Lee’s Summit CARES provides courses and workshops for school staff members in areas such as Love and Logic techniques, bullying prevention and creating a positive school climate. A new workshop focuses on addressing bullying behavior through a course called Empowering Upstander Behavior in a Bystander World.

Through surveys, parents attending the Love and Logic courses have shared that participation in the classes has made parenting less stressful, reduced the arguing and whining in the home, improved relationships with children and teens, helped parents “train” their children to listen to them and resulted in more responsible children.

Lee’s Summit CARES has been updating its website,, to make it more convenient for parents to access the many resources available. The Greater Lee’s Summit Healthcare Foundation recently awarded Lee’s Summit CARES a grant to help better publicize these opportunities, including the creation of videotaped sessions.

Brad Rackers of LS R-7 named Missouri Regional Teacher of Year

Brad Rackers, theatre director at Lee’s Summit West High School, was named one of six Missouri Regional Teachers of the Year for the Kansas City region. He was named Lee’s Summit R-7 School District Teacher of the Year during an April community reception.  

Mr. Rackers has been an educator for 13 years, including seven years with the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District. He has presented at local, regional and national theatre arts conferences and is currently president of the Speech and Theatre Association of Missouri.

“The best learning happens when students don’t realize they’re learning,” Mr. Rackers said. “Teaching is all about going on an educational journey with students and letting them make mistakes, supporting them when they fail, reflecting on the successes and challenges throughout the process and celebrating the final product. All students have their own unique set of experiences they bring with them to the classroom each day. I negotiate those circumstances to help them succeed at the highest level.”

In nomination forms, Mr. Rackers was praised for his ability to engage all students. “Mr. Rackers uses theatre to draw in the students on the fringe, students who could otherwise easily slip through cracks of high school life and instead connect them with meaningful work as part of a tight-knit family,” said a nominator.

At Lee’s Summit West High School, Mr. Rackers serves on the Diversity Team and has previously served on the district’s curriculum writing team. He makes it a priority to provide opportunities for his theatre students to support community organizations through community service activities such as an annual canned food drive supporting Lee’s Summit Social Services and a book drive for Reach Out and Read.

He received the Speech and Theatre Association of Missouri Board of Governor’s New Teacher of the Year award, Grandview High School Teacher of the Year award and was selected as the technical director for the Missouri State Thespians All-State performance of “Jekyll and Hyde.” Before coming to Lee’s Summit R-7, Mr. Rackers taught theatre in the Grandview School District. In the theatre community, Mr. Rackers has been heavily involved in the Kansas City Cappies organization, directing a number of shows and musicals as well as serving as the organization’s Steering Committee chairperson. He has also worked with the Summit Theater Group and served as a technical director for Missouri State Thespians All-State Show and International Thespian Conference Selection.

Mr. Rackers earned a bachelor’s degree in speech and theatre education from Missouri State University and a master’s in education from Baker University, graduating summa cum laude.  

The Missouri Regional Teacher of the Year award is part of the Missouri Teacher of the Year program, sponsored by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). The program recognizes the efforts of effective teachers in providing a quality education to students.

Mr. Rackers is eligible to compete for Missouri Teacher of the Year for 2017. The selection committee, comprised of teachers, business leaders and education organization leaders, will choose the Missouri Teacher of the Year following interviews with each finalist this fall. The winner and the finalists will be honored at a banquet in October in Jefferson City. The new Missouri Teacher of the Year will serve as the state’s nominee for the National Teacher of the Year competition.

The Missouri Teacher of the Year program is conducted with financial support by the Boeing Company and the Monsanto Fund.

LS R-7 Board of Education offers videotaping of regular monthly meetings

Videotaped meetings available on district’s YouTube and City of LS access channels

Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education regular monthly meetings are broadcast online and via the City of Lee’s Summit’s governmental access channel. The meetings are available on the district’s YouTube Channel and on the district’s BoardDocs webpage.

The Board of Education meetings have been broadcast online since December 2016. Beginning in summer 2017, they are also available on the City of Lee’s Summit governmental access channels — AT&T U-verse 99, Spectrum (previously Time Warner) 2, Comcast 7 and Google TV 143. The Board meetings are being broadcast on the LSTV, Lee’s Summit governmental access channel, on the following schedule: noon Tuesdays, 7 p.m. Saturdays and 9 p.m. Sundays.

For a schedule of Board of Education meetings, visit our Board webpage.

Lee’s Summit R-7 high schools announce 2017-18 theatre schedules

All three Lee’s Summit R-7 School District high schools are planning for an exciting theatre season with productions beginning in September and running through next spring. Theatre schedules follow, including contact information and websites for each school.

Lee’s Summit High School will kick off their season this year with a children’s show (TBA) that will take the stage Oct. 13th and 14th.

This year’s musical takes us to the city of Paris for “The Hunchback Of Notre Dame” on Nov. 10, 11 and 17-19. Based on Victor Hugo’s original novel and using an Alan Menken score with both new songs and songs from the animated movie, the audience will experience the story of Quasimodo, Esmerelda and more through the use of story theatre. This moving story explores the value of the beauty that is found on the inside of people.

The LSHS season will continue Feb. 23-24 and March 2-4 with a winter comedy play. This show title is yet to be announced!

To close out the Lee’s Summit High School season on April 20 and 21 the Repertory Theatre class will be presenting their stage play. The Repertory Theatre class choses this piece as part of their class, and the title will be announced during the school year.

Additional smaller performances throughout our year are also scheduled. The Repertory Revue Show on Feb. 2 and 3 are cabaret-style performances with refreshments and fun. On April 6 and 7, upperclassmen present the Student Directed One-Acts with students selecting one acts, casting underclassmen and preparing these short plays.

Tickets for all LSHS shows are available at on the box office web page or you may contact (816) 986-2055 or for more information or group reservations.

Lee’s Summit North High School leads off their season with the children’s musical, “Sleepy Hollow,” a show alive with action, excitement and dynamic music. When an inane schoolmaster, Ichabod Crane, comes to the farming community of Sleepy Hollow, he brings with him all his worldly possessions as he seeks a well-to-do wife.  He’s sure his dream will come true when he spots the striking Katrina Van Tassel. Sadly for poor Ichabod, the boisterous Brom Bones is Katrina’s extremely jealous boyfriend. Matters are complicated even more as the ghostly graveyard is haunted by a host of tense spirits, including the Headless Horseman, the most renowned phantom of all. This suspenseful musical is filled with a variety of songs that fit the bill and is suitable for all age groups (rated – G). Performances are at 7 p.m. Oct. 13 and 14 and at 2 p.m. Oct. 15.

North’s season continues with a true story based on the Dreamworks film and brought to the stage in musical form, “Catch Me If You Can.”  This high-flying musical comedy is about chasing your dreams and not getting caught. Seeking fame and fortune, precocious teenager, Frank Abagnale Jr., runs away from home to begin an unforgettable adventure. With nothing more than his boyish charm, a big imagination and millions of dollars in forged checks, Frank successfully poses as a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer – living the high life and winning the girl of his dreams.  When Frank’s lies catch the attention of the FBI his cross-country chase begins. (Rated – PG)  The show runs at 7 p.m. Nov 10, 11, 17 and 18 and at 2 p.m. Nov. 12.

LSNHS will conclude its season with a family favorite, “Lion King, Jr.”.  Disney’s “The Lion King” has captivated the imagination of audiences around the world and now, audiences have the opportunity to witness this one-of-a-kind musical on the LSNHS stage. The African savannah comes to life on stage with Simba, Rafiki and an unforgettable cast of characters as they journey from Pride Rock to the jungle… and back again, in this inspiring, coming-of-age tale. (Rated – G)  This musical treat will be offered at 7 p.m. Feb. 9, 10, 16 and 17 and at 2 p.m. Feb. 11.

For tickets and information about any of the three LSNHS shows, visit or call (816) 986-3031.

Lee’s Summit West High School will open its 2017-18 season with the hilarious comedy “Boeing Boeing.”  Bernard is a bachelor with a beautiful apartment in Paris and three equally beautiful girlfriends from around the world who know nothing about each other.  What happens when these three stewardesses all end up in Paris on the very same day?  This show will run at 7 p.m. Sept. 1 and 2.

LSWHS continues the year with the hilarious classic musical, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”  The musical follows the rise of J. Pierrepont Finch, who uses a little handbook called “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying” to climb the corporate ladder from lowly window washer to high-powered executive, tackling such familiar but potent dangers as the aggressively compliant “company man,” the office party, backstabbing co-workers, caffeine addiction and, of course, true love.  “How to Succeed in Business…” runs at 7 p.m. Nov. 3, 4, 10 and 11 and at 2 p.m Nov. 12.

West’s main-stage season will conclude with two plays in February. The first is the hilarious comedy, “The Odd Couple: Female Version.”  Unger and Madison are at it again! Florence Unger and Olive Madison that is. Ms. Madison has invited the girls over for an evening of Trivial Pursuit. Florence is forced to move in with disorganized friend Olive. How will these two such unlikely friends survive living together?  What follows is a hilarious evening of comedy centered that is sure to leave you in stitches.  “The Odd Couple: Female Version” runs at 7 p.m. Feb.  2 and 3 and 2 p.m. Nov. 4.  The second production is a stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”  This production will be produced in conjunction with the Lee’s Summit West English Language Arts Department. Scout, a young girl in a quiet southern town, is about to experience the dramatic events that will affect the rest of her life. She and her brother, Jem, are being raised by their widowed father, Atticus, and by a strong minded housekeeper, Calpurnia. Wide-eyed Scout is fascinated with the sensitively revealed people of her small town, but, from the start, there’s a rumble of thunder just under the calm surface of the life here. If you love the book, this is a must see production for you. “To Kill a Mockingbird” runs at 7 p.m. Feb. 23 and 24 and at 2 p.m. Feb. 25.

In addition, LSWHS will present two children’s shows on Oct. 14 and 15, “Tuna Christmas” and “The Game’s Afoot or Holmes for the Holidays” Dec. 15-17, a Revue on Feb. 16 and 17, a series of student-directed one-act plays March 15 and 16, and a repertory theatre murder mystery dinner theatre on April 20 and 21.  Information about all LSWHS productions is available at Tickets for all plays will be $6 in advance and $7 at the door. Musical tickets will be $9 in advance and $10 at the door.

All three high schools will also present yet-to-be-announced productions at the school district’s One-Act Play Festival to be performed on the LSWHS Stage, scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 1 and 2.

Five LS R-7 School District students named National Merit Scholarship Corporation finalists

Lee’s Summit R-7 School District students recently named National Merit Scholarship Corporation finalists are Paige Maxwell, Lee’s Summit High School; Stacey Edmonsond, Lee’s Summit North High School; and Simone Jacoby, Marie Reuss, Jacob Schnitzlein, Lee’s Summit West High School. The students were named National Merit Scholarship Corporation semifinalists last fall.

Recognized students have the opportunity to continue in the competition for approximately 8,200 National Merit Scholarship Awards, worth close to $33 million, to be offered this spring. There are approximately 15,000 finalists throughout the United States.

Paige Maxwell is the daughter of Dale Maxwell and Laura Maxwell. At Lee’s Summit High School, Paige participates in robotics, student senate, Tiger Smart, tiger mentoring, Lee’s Summit CARES Youth Advisory Board, soccer and is an International Baccalaureate Diploma candidate.

Stacey Edmonsond is the daughter of Steve Edmonsond and Brenda Edmonsond. At Lee’s Summit North High School, Stacey participates in math club, National Honor Society, robotics, science knowledge bowl, National German Honor Society, medical club, German club, medical explorers, co-founder of Young Aspiring Student Scientists  and is an International Baccalaureate Diploma candidate. She has also scored a perfect 36 on the ACT.

Simone Jacoby is the daughter of Dr. Michael RK Jacoby and Rayma Vinyard Jacoby. At Lee’s Summit West High School, Simone participates in speech and debate, Gay-Straight Alliance, National Honor Society, book club and Anime Club.

Marie Reuss is the daughter of Janet Reuss and John Reuss. At Lee’s Summit West High School, Marie participates in National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, cross country, track, Earth club and is an International Baccalaureate Diploma candidate.

Jacob Schnitzlein is the son of Fay Schnitzlein and Rex Schnitzlein. At Lee’s Summit West High School, Jacob participates in robotics, student mentor-FTC robotics team at LSWHS, mentor to elementary FLL robotics teams, scholar bowl, Missouri Math League and chess club.

Founded in 1955 to conduct the annual Merit Scholarship competition, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation is a privately financed, not-for-profit corporation that operates without government assistance. Scholarships awarded through the program are underwritten by nearly 500 independent sponsor organizations and institutions as well as with the corporation’s own funds.

Nearly 1.5 million students throughout the United States entered the 2017 Merit Program as juniors by taking the preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which serves as an initial screen of program entrants.

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