Community invited to attend Missouri Innovation Campus grand opening Sept. 5

// Posted By Janie Rohlfing

Trailblazing facility is partnership between LS R-7 School District and University of Central Missouri

The community is invited to attend a grand opening of the new Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC) at
4 p.m. Sept. 5 at 1101 NW Innovation Parkway, Lee’s Summit. The celebration will include a brief program, a Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting, tours of the new facility and refreshments.

The new facility includes the Missouri Innovation Campus program, a nationally recognized program reshaping the way students experience education; Summit Technology Academy (STA), a unique high-school program that prepares students for careers in areas such as engineering, computer science, health care and creative sciences; and UCM-Lee’s Summit, the university’s main off-campus learning facility, offering graduate- and undergraduate-level completion programs to metro-area students. Students enrolled in Summit Technology Academy as well as the Missouri Innovation Campus are from 14 metro-area school districts.

“This Missouri Innovation Campus is a shining example of what happens when organizations and individuals work together for a greater good,” said Dr. Dennis L. Carpenter, Lee’s Summit R-7 superintendent. “Thanks to our partnership with higher education and the support of our community, we are able to save money for taxpayers and, most importantly, better prepare our students for success in life.”

“The opening of this new facility really represents game on,” added University of Central Missouri President Charles Ambrose. “Now our challenge is to take something we have demonstrated is actually possible and make sure it is accessible,  not only to students and their families who take full advantage, but for future talent across our region to make Kansas City more competitive.”

The Missouri Innovation Campus program is a progressive collaboration between the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, Metropolitan Community College and UCM. By engaging business partners and community organizations, the MIC offers an accelerated program that shortens the time it takes students to complete a four-year degree, significantly reducing college debt and providing job-ready skills that are highly sought after by business. The MIC program was highlighted by President Barack Obama during a visit to UCM’s Warrensburg campus in 2013.

Through the trailblazing partnership, the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District and UCM joined forces to construct and operate this state-of-the-art, cost-saving facility. Under a plan developed by the two educational institutions, Lee’s Summit R-7 is paying for approximately 40 percent of the new school with UCM paying the remaining 60 percent. Through this agreement, Lee’s Summit R-7 is the sole owner of the facility with UCM paying its portion of costs through lease payments.

The shared facility reduces operating expenses for both organizations and allows the school district to move both the Missouri Innovation Campus and Summit Technology Academy programs from leased space into a building owned by Lee’s Summit R-7.

The R-7 School District’s portion of the facility’s cost is funded through a no-tax-increase bond issue, approved by approximately 80 percent of voters in 2015. This $40 million bond issue is also funding renovation and maintenance projects that are positively impacting each R-7 school.

The new two-story building totals 135,000 square feet and is designed so that Lee’s Summit R-7 and UCM will share interior learning and conference spaces as well as parking, saving money for both organizations. The two partnering organizations have also worked collaboratively on procurement to help generate additional savings on furniture, fixtures and technology.

Construction manager for the new school is McCownGordon. Design architect is Gould Evans, and architect of record is DLR Group, all from the Kansas City area..

Through the MIC program, students begin their junior year of high school while attending Summit Technology Academy. By approximately the same time they earn a high-school diploma, they will have completed an associate degree from Metropolitan Community College, finishing their four-year bachelor’s degree from UCM two years later. The graduates will also have completed three years of paid internships with prestigious Kansas City metro-area companies, which helps defray the costs of their education. Many students who complete the MIC program land permanent jobs with the companies in which they interned. In all, the MIC program is linked with 40 corporate partners with industry representatives assisting in development of curriculum that prepares students to immediately succeed in the workforce.

The new facility has been a goal for Lee’s Summit R-7 and UCM leaders since the MIC program was in the concept stage. This type of facility partnership between a public school district and a university is unique both regionally and nationally and provides a high-school/college environment that includes non-traditional teaching spaces designed to mimic the workspace of the various fields.

The new school features 60 classrooms including shared spaces for the school district and university programs as well as spaces designated for each organization. The facility is designed to take advantage of exterior light with corridors that can double as additional learning areas at some locations. The Missouri Innovation Campus also features medical school-caliber skilled nursing labs and simulation rooms; professional quality digital media technology; high-tech engineering, biomedical and computer science instruction areas; and an international studies area with state-of-the-art distance learning technology. A testing center is located on the second floor and will provide everything from GED to computer software certification testing as well as electronic monitoring of individuals taking the exams.

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