Lee’s Summit R-7, University of Central Missouri celebrate milestone in construction of new Summit Tech / Missouri Innovation Campus

Officials from the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District and the University of Central Missouri gathered together Oct. 13 to celebrate a milestone in the construction of the new Summit Technology Academy / Missouri Innovation Campus, a partnership involving both organizations.

At a Topping Out the Beam ceremony, Lee’s Summit R-7 and UCM marked the placement of the final steel beam on the 140,000-square-foot building. The beam event is a tradition among steel workers and construction firms and marks a significant milestone in the construction process.

The event included brief remarks from Dr. Dave Benson, R-7 interim superintendent; Dr. Chuck Ambrose, UCM president; and Dr. Brent Blevins, R-7 deputy superintendent of operations. Immediately following the brief ceremony, the approximately 40 people attending had the opportunity to sign the final beam before it was hoisted onto the building via a large crane.

Dr. Benson praised the unique partnership between the two educational organizations. “We look forward to sharing this space with the University of Central Missouri as our joint mission to serve students and the community goes forward,” he said.

The 1,169-pound final beam tying the structure together joins nearly 942 tons or 72 truckloads of steel that have gone into the building project, under the management of McCownGordon Construction. Architectural firms for the new facility are DLR Group and GouldEvans.

The new Summit Tech / MIC is scheduled to open in August 2017. The school is made possible thanks to a trailblazing partnership that was established by the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District and the University of Central Missouri. The agreement led R-7 leaders to place a $40 million no-tax-increase bond issue on the April 2015 election ballot. This bond issue, which is also funding numerous facility improvements at all R-7 schools, was approved by approximately 80 percent of voters.

The new Summit Tech / MIC will be owned by the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District. Through the unique partnership, the University of Central Missouri will pay for 60 percent of the building through a lease agreement with Lee’s Summit R-7 funding the remaining 40 percent. The facility will house Lee’s Summit R-7’s Summit Technology Academy; the Missouri Innovation Campus, a partnership involving R-7, UCM, Metropolitan Community College and approximately 40 businesses; and the UCM-Lee’s Summit.

Summit Technology Academy, established in 1999 by the R-7 School District, is a unique secondary school that prepares students for careers in engineering, computer science, health care and creative science. UCM-Lee’s Summit is the university’s main off-campus learning facility, offering graduate- and undergraduate-level completion programs to metro-area students. The Missouri Innovation Campus, established in 2012 at Summit Technology Academy, is a nationally recognized program that accelerates the time it takes students to complete a four-year degree, significantly reduces college debt and provides job-ready skills that are highly sought after by businesses.

Thanks to the partnership and the use of shared spaces and resources, the new building will save money for both Lee’s Summit R-7 and UCM while providing students with a state-of-the-art facility for learning.

ocsta-blevinsambrosebensonA brief ceremony included comments from (from left) Dr. Brent Blevins, Dr. Chuck Ambrose and Dr. Dave Benson.





ocsta-topbeam1The final beam makes its way to the top of the structure.







ocstatopbeamdoneThe beam is placed on the building.







ocstatopbeamthebeamSignatures on the final beam.

Tips for parents related to communicable diseases and school

Autumn tends to be the time of year that families and schools begin to see more incidences of communicable disease including pertussis, which is commonly known as whooping cough.

As of Oct. 6, a total of seven confirmed cases of pertussis have been found in one Lee’s Summit R-7 school —  Hazel Grove Elementary. Families in schools with cases of pertussis confirmed via the Jackson County Health Department would notified via our Health Services Department. As with all communicable diseases, our school nurses work closely with the Jackson County Health Department and follow the department’s recommendations.

With pertussis and other communicable diseases, the district’s Facilities Services staff members work closely with schools to provide additional cleaning and disinfecting of targeted classrooms or areas.

Although this number of confirmed cases would not be considered especially unusual for this time of year, we wanted to communicate additional information about pertussis to R-7 families. Symptoms of pertussis include a long series of coughs or coughing fits followed by a whooping noise that may last for at least two weeks. Occasionally severe coughing episodes can cause vomiting, turning blue and/or difficulty catching one’s breath. The cough is often worse at night and cough medicine usually does not relieve the coughing.

It is possible for an individual who has received the pertussis vaccine to contract pertussis. In these cases, the case tends to be milder, shorter in duration and symptoms are considerably less severe.

If you child comes down with cold symptoms that include a cough, please talk to your child’s doctor. If your child is in a school with a confirmed case of pertussis, please share this information with your doctor. Additional information about pertussis is available at www.whoopingcough.net.

LS R-7 students score above state average on Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) tests

Local students excel in each subject area and each grade level tested

Lee’s Summit R-7 School District students scored above the state average in each tested area at each grade level tested as part of the spring 2016 Missouri Assessment (MAP) program.  

Students in Missouri take grade-level MAP tests in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics in grades three through eight, as well as science exams in fifth and eighth grades. High school students enrolled in any of the following courses take End-of-Course exams as part of the Missouri Assessment program: algebra I, biology, English 10 and government. Sophomores enrolled in algebra II also take the End-of-Course exam.

Test results were released by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in September 2016. The spring 2016 tests were newly created assessments in the areas of ELA and math; all MAP assessments measure Missouri Learning Standards.

Because the Spring 2016 assessments in ELA and Math were brand new, achievement data from 2016 tests cannot appropriately be compared to previous years’ data.

Using percent of students scoring proficient or advanced as the measure, R-7 outscored the state average by the following percentages:



R-7 School District ACT college-entrance exams are well above state and national averages

Lee’s Summit R-7 School District students taking the ACT college-entrance test scored well above state ACTonGradPhoto2016and national averages, according to results recently released from the 2015-16 school year.

R-7 students averaged a 21.8 on the composite score, compared to 20.2 for the Missouri average and 20.8 for the national average.

Lee’s Summit R-7 School District students also scored above the state and national averages in all four specific subjects tested – English, mathematics, reading and science.

A total of 1,379 Lee’s Summit R-7 students took the ACT test during 2015-16. This is an approximately 40 percent increase over the number of R-7 students taking the ACT test during 2014-15.

Due to a change in state assessment procedures, all students in the Class of 2016 at Missouri public high schools took the ACT test at school during their junior year. There was no cost for this test to the students or school districts. In addition, some students may choose to take the test again after this initial test with the students responsible for the test fee. For students taking multiple ACT tests, the highest score is counted.

The ACT is America’s most widely accepted college entrance exam. It assesses high school students’ general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work. The multiple-choice tests cover four skill areas: English, mathematics, reading and science. The writing test measures skill in planning and writing a short essay.

Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education approves Destination 2021 strategic plan

Five-year Comprehensive School Improvement Plan developed by staff and community team

The Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education approved the district’s five-year strategic plan, called Destination 2021, at the Board’s Aug. 18 meeting. This Comprehensive School Improvement Plan, which covers 2016 through 2021, was developed by a team of approximately 55 staff and community members who worked together throughout the 2016 spring semester. The district also included approximately 70 participants in focus groups that provided input toward the development of the plan.

The plan focuses on five areas – governance; student performance; highly qualified staff; facilities, support and instructional resources; and parent and community involvement. Destination 21’s major emphasis continues to be on instruction, learning and student success. The complete plan is posted at http://www.lsr7.org/district/news-publications/ under “R-7 School District 5-year plan.”

“The R-7 strategic plan is focused on meeting the unique needs of each student in our district and providing the necessary support to the professionals working each day in schools to make that happen,” said Dr. Kevin Daniel, associate superintendent of instruction and leadership. “We were pleased to double the number of stakeholders involved in the development of the new strategic plan from the previous effort. In fact, multiple stakeholders were able to provide additional input into Destination 2021 throughout the course its development. The input, effort and time commitment of our staff and community members to ensure we continue to meet our mission of preparing each student for success in life was both appreciated and impressive.”

Following approval at the August Board of Education meeting, Lee’s Summit R-7 district and school leaders are discussing key components of the newly adopted strategic plan. To ensure accountability, the plan’s components are placed on a timeline and reviewed annually by the community and staff team, the Superintendent’s Leadership Team and the Board of Education. The plan, which is considered a living document, can be updated to reflect changes in areas such as educational technology through the input of these teams.

Information about the new plan is being shared with a variety of district stakeholders, including staff, parents, community members and students.

Lee’s Summit R-7 has a tradition of long-range, comprehensive planning, and the current R-7 document is actually the R-7 School District’s sixth five-year strategic plan. Previous strategic plans were also developed by community and staff members in 1990, 1995, 2001, 2006 and 2011.

Michelle Uptegrove named finalist for Missouri Teacher of the Year

Michelle Uptegrove, life skills teacher at Cedar Creek Elementary, was named one of seven finalists for Missouri Teacher of the Year during a surprise announcement on Aug. 24. She will participate in an interview with the Missouri Teacher of the Year Selection Committee in late August. It is anticipated that the Teacher of the Year will be named soon after the committee’s interviews.

Mrs. Uptegrove was named one of 31 regional Missouri Teachers of the Year during July. The state’s Teacher of the Year, the finalists and and all regional winners will be honored at a ceremony in Jefferson City during October.

Over the last 10 years, Lee’s Summit R-7 has been the home of seven Missouri Teacher of the Year finalists including two who were also named state Teacher of the Year.

Mrs. Uptegrove was named Lee’s Summit R-7 School District Teacher of the Year during April at a community reception hosted by the school district and the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce. An educator for 23 years, she teaches children with special needs at Cedar Creek Elementary. Mrs. Uptegrove previously taught in the life skills program and worked as a resource teacher for learning disabilities at Prairie View Elementary and worked for three years in the Blue Springs School District.

The Cedar Creek teacher shared that her teaching experience with special needs children began at age 10 when her youngest sister was born. “She has cerebral palsy, and I learned to bathe, feed and care for her,” she said. “As she grew, I read to her, taught her the alphabet, how to count and use her letter boards to communicate.”

Nomination forms highlighted Mrs. Uptegrove’s leadership skills, empathy and advocacy for all children. “Michelle’s passion for diversifying and including all students in the public education system goes above and beyond,” said a co-worker. “The pure love she has for these kids is admirable.”

Mrs. Uptegrove has also served as the district’s life skills collaboration host/facilitator, as a site-based team building facilitator, as Red Ribbon Week school coordinator and as a Student Council sponsor. At Cedar Creek Elementary, she worked in cooperation with Lee’s Summit Kohl’s Cares volunteers to create a sensory garden.

“I believe that teaching must always be based on partnerships as well as evidence-based best practices, interpreting formative data and making constant adjustments to meet students where they are functioning, both in academics and daily living skills,” she added.

Within the community, Mrs. Uptegrove has served as a volunteer for Special Olympics-Young Athletes; as a volunteer with the Girl Scout Association, assisting at troop meetings and making modifications for inclusion and positive participation for students needing extra support; and as a volunteer tutor for non-traditional students at Metropolitan Community College-Longview.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in education and her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, both from Avila University. In addition, she has earned certifications in learning disabilities; social, emotional and behavioral disorders; intellectual disabilities; and K-6 elementary education.

agTOYfinalistGroupKids agTOYfinalistGroup1-Blevins (1)Michelle Uptegrove is surprised by Dr. Brent Blevins, R-7 acting superintendent, during a surprise announcement at an all-school assembly.

Dr. David Benson named Lee’s Summit R-7 School District interim superintendent

Dr. David Benson was named Lee’s Summit R-7 School District interim superintendent for the 2016-17 Dave Bensonschool year, according to an Aug. 16 announcement from the district’s Board of Education.

“We feel very fortunate to have someone of Dr. Benson’s caliber in the interim superintendent position and believe he brings the skills, knowledge and experience that are needed to lead our successful school district during the coming year,” said Bob White, Board of Education president.

Dr. Benson has a total of 43 years of experience in education that includes serving as a superintendent of high-performing school districts in Missouri, Kansas and Iowa. He has been recognized as Kansas Superintendent of the Year and has received the National Education Association Award for Outstanding Labor Management Relations, the Missouri School Public Relations Association Administrator of the Year Award and the Kansas School Public Relations Association Communicator of the Year Award.

Dr. Benson will serve in this position from Sept. 1 through June 2017. The Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education members are also working on the search for a permanent superintendent to be named later this school year. The Board’s timeline calls for the permanent superintendent to begin working for Lee’s Summit R-7 in summer 2017.

“I am pleased to have the opportunity to serve the students, faculty, staff and community of Lee’s Summit R-7 and look forward to a great 2016-17 school year,” said Dr. Benson.

Dr. Benson retired from the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Community School District in June 2015 after serving as superintendent for six years. He also served as superintendent of the Ladue (Missouri) School District for five years, as superintendent of the Blue Valley (Kansas) School District for 11 years, as superintendent of the Fort Madison (Iowa) Community School District for six years and as superintendent of Unified School District No. 305 in Moundridge, Kansas, for four years. In addition, he has worked as a school district personnel director, principal, assistant principal and teacher for districts in Kansas and Missouri.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary education (sociology and history) and master’s degree in secondary education, both from Pittsburg State University; his specialist degree in school administration from Wichita State University; and his doctorate in educational administration and foundations from Kansas State University.

Dr. Benson has been active in the community for many years, including through organizations such as Rotary, Chamber of Commerce and United Way. He has also written articles for Midwest Express, Workforce and Scholastic Administrator.

The Board of Education accepted applications for the interim position during late July and interviewed candidates on Aug. 2 and 9 during closed session meetings. No candidates currently employed by the R-7 School District applied for or were interviewed for this position due to the timing of the job opening and the need for existing staff members to fulfill other responsibilities within the school district.

Dr. Benson’s contract for the position was approved by the Board of Education during an Aug. 16 special meeting. The interim superintendent’s compensation package will total $225,000 for the 10-month period.

Since May 20, Dr. Brent Blevins, who is the district’s deputy superintendent of operations, has been serving as both the district’s acting superintendent and deputy superintendent of operations. Dr. Blevins will return to his role as deputy superintendent on Sept. 1.

“I also want to sincerely thank Dr. Blevins and the entire Superintendent’s Leadership Team for taking on extra responsibilities these past three months in addition to their regular duties,” added Mr. White.

Local businesses have opportunity to advertise at LS R-7 high-school sports events through GameTime Radio

The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District Athletic Department recently announced a unique advertising opportunity for local businesses and organizations. Through GameTime Radio, radio spots will be broadcast during home sporting events for Lee’s Summit High School, Lee’s Summit North High School and Lee’s Summit West High School.

GameTime Radio includes DJs, music and commercials with a mix of upbeat, family-friendly music along with special messages updated for each specific event. The radio broadcasts will take place during pre-game, halftime and post-game at most home sporting events.

Businesses and organizations have the opportunity to gain valuable exposure to the large crowds that attend all home football games at the R-7 high schools as well as other home sporting events such as soccer, basketball, baseball, softball, wrestling, volleyball and track and field. It is anticipated that GameTime Radio will be heard at a minimum of 200 events during the 2016-17 school year.

The cost for businesses and organizations is $2,500 for one 30-second commercial, which will be broadcast at more than 200 sporting events at the three high schools throughout the year. This opportunity is limited to 20 commercial spots, and the R-7 Athletic Department is offering these spots on a first-come first-served basis. For more information, to hear a sample advertisement or to reserve your spot, contact Richard Bechard, R-7 athletic director, at rich.bechard@lsr7.net or (816) 986-1038.

New Summit Tech/Missouri Innovation Campus and numerous school improvements benefit students

LS R-7 School District bond issue projects are on time and within budget

Projects ranging from a new school to classroom renovations to playground upgrades are among facility improvements made possible thanks to a 2015 Lee’s Summit R-7 no-tax-increase bond issue. The numerous projects, which positively impact all 28 R-7 schools, remain within budget and on schedule.

The $40 million bond issue was approved by close to 80 percent of school district voters during April 2015. In addition to a new Summit Technology Academy / Missouri Innovation Campus, the issue is funding school improvements in the areas of classroom instruction, safety and security, health and wellness, ADA access renovations and special education as well as maintenance projects designed to protect the district’s investment in its schools. Also included are playground safety upgrades for all elementary schools’ soft play areas and replacement of deteriorated play equipment.

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. The majority of the individual school projects were scheduled for completion during summer 2015 and summer 2016 with a few extensive projects wrapping up during the 2016-17 school year or summer 2017. School improvements totaling $8 million were completed during summer 2015 with approximately $9 million in upgrades scheduled for completion by fall 2016.

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 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.

The new Summit Technology Academy / 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 community groundbreaking celebration.

Thanks to a unique partnership with the University of Central Missouri (UCM), the school district and university will construct and operate 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 Tech / Missouri Innovation Campus 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 Summit Tech / MIC 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.

For more information about the bond issue progress, including photographs of projects, visit the district’s website.

agBondSTAsteelGoingUpConstruction is underway at the site of the new Summit Tech / Missouri Innovation Campus.






agSTA-MIC Drawing Front (1) agSTA-MIC Drawing Hallway (1)Architect’s drawings of the new Summit Technology Academy / Missouri Innovation Campus.




agBond-CCEplayground (1)All R-7 elementary playgrounds are being upgraded. Cedar Creek Elementary is pictured.

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