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University Relations

University of Central Missouri
Administration 302
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
Fax: 660-543-4943


Partnership Signifies Future-Focused Commitment to Reshaping Education

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Jan. 28, 2015) – The University of Central Missouri and Lee’s Summit R-7 School District leaders came together Jan. 28 to announce a future-focused agreement setting the stage for a new shared facility in the community to house the Summit Technology Academy (STA) and The Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC).

The event took place at the Summit Tech Academy, 777 N.W. Blue Parkway in Lee’s Summit. David McGehee, superintendent of the R-7 School District, and Charles Ambrose, UCM president, spoke to the gathering of more than 50 people and participated in a ceremonial lease signing agreement, signifying both institutions’ commitment to this proposed building initiative. Ron Baker, president of the R-7 Board of Education, and Gus Wetzel II, M.D., vice president of the UCM Board of Governors from Clinton, also participated in the lease signing, which was followed by presentations from three metropolitan area high school students who attend the Summit Technology Academy / Missouri Innovation Campus (STA / MIC). Brett Burasco, a senior from Blue Springs High School ; Quinn Cosgrove, a graduate of Lee’s Summit West High School, who is now a senior at UCM;  and Annamarie Hurst, a junior from Center High School, shared their perspectives on the benefits of the MIC.

The special event followed recent action by the Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education, which on Jan. 22 unanimously approved placement of a $40 million no-tax-increase bond issue on the April 7, 2015 ballot. The agreement is contingent upon the purchase of land for the shared facility. The R-7 School district is currently finalizing the land purchase with plans calling for the R-7 Board of Education on Feb. 19 to approve a letter of intent to purchase property. The no-tax increase bond measure includes:

The no-tax-increase issue was reviewed by the school district’s Citizens’ Advisory Committee, Business Roundtable and PTA Council with each group providing feedback on the recommended components.

MIC R7 signing
University of Central Missouri President Charles Ambrose, second from right, ceremonially signs a lease agreement signifying a joint commitment to a partnership that would lead to a new shared facility that would serve the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District and the university. Also taking part in the ceremony are, from left, David McGehee, R-7 district superintendent; Gus Wetzel II, vice president of the UCM Board of Governors; and Ron Baker, R-7 board president.

New Summit Technology Academy / Missouri Innovation Campus

A major portion of the bond issue includes construction of a new Summit Technology Academy / Missouri Innovation Campus, estimated at approximately $17.5 million of the $40 million issue. Through their partnership, UCM and the school district are planning to construct and operate the shared facility. Under the plan, R-7 will pay approximately 40 percent of the cost for the new building with UCM paying the remaining 60 percent, through the 20-year lease agreement. Based on the agreement, Lee’s Summit R-7 will be the sole owner of the building which will house Summit Tech / Missouri Innovation Campus (STA / MIC) as well as UCM programs currently offered at the UCM Summit Center, which is located just south of Summit Technology Academy.

The shared facility would reduce operating expenses for the R-7 School District, allowing the district to move STA / MIC from leased space into a building owned by the school district. The R-7 School District has leased space for Summit Tech at a favorable rate due to a tax abatement for a local business center that dates back to the late 1990s. This low-cost lease will expire when the business facility comes onto the tax rolls in 2018, and R-7 officials have been looking for an alternative that will be both more affordable and designed specifically for the growing educational programs. Due to the anticipated increase in rental costs with the expiration of the tax abatement, it is estimated that construction of the shared facility would save approximately $9 million for the school district over the next 20 years.

“This is an exciting project for our community with significant advantages for our taxpayers, but the true winners in this partnership are our students,” McGehee said. He added, “For our Board of Education, this partnership with the University of Central Missouri makes financial sense, allowing us to be outstanding stewards of our district’s resources. We’ll be able to move from this current leased facility – which has served us well – into a facility that Lee’s Summit R-7 will own for decades to come.”

 Ambrose told the group the agreement between R-7 and UCM demonstrates the trust both entities share for one another. It’s a partnership that will have a far-reaching impact in terms of educating tomorrow’s students.

“We’re envisioning not only the efficient use of resources, but different outcomes for students that are as aggressive as anywhere in the country. That will help define who we are and what we become as a region,” he said.

School Improvements

Approximately $5.44 million within the bond issue funds improvements at numerous R-7 schools. Such improvements affect all schools in the district, although they vary according to school. They encompass efforts such as enhanced ADA access and gym renovation and expansion; track upgrades and repairs; basement renovation; restroom, kitchen and cafeteria renovation; science classroom renovation; health room renovation; improved parking; and playground upgrades and replacement of deteriorating play equipment. Work also includes maintenance projects related to flooring, carpet, ceilings, painting, roofing, paving, mechanical, doors, windows, backflows, water sanitizing and masonry.

The final component of the bond issue is an approximately $3 million global contingency, totaling close to 4.7 percent of the overall $64 million in projects (including R-7 funding through the $40 million bond and University of Central Missouri’s investment of $24 million, through the lease agreement).

Construction schedule

If the bond is endorsed by at least four-sevenths of R-7 voters, construction on the Summit Technology Academy / Missouri Innovation Campus would begin soon after the election with the new facility opening in August 2017. The school improvements and maintenance projects would also begin soon after the election with the majority of projects complete by either fall 2015 or fall 2016.

About Summit Technology Academy and Missouri Innovation Campus

The R-7 School District opened Summit Technology Academy in 1999 with the goal to prepare students for college and high-demand careers. Over the past 15 years, Summit Tech has grown from just 26 students in one engineering program to a school offering 14 programs and serving approximately 450 students from 11 school districts. Students are enrolled in courses such as information technology, networking, nursing, international studies, digital media, education and engineering. Sending school districts from the metropolitan area pay tuition to Lee’s Summit R-7 for their students who enroll in R-7’s Summit Technology Academy programs.

UCM, the R-7 School District, Metropolitan Community College, and numerous businesses are partners in the MIC, which is located within Summit Tech. With 65 students currently enrolled, the MIC was created in 2012 to help accelerate the time it takes for students to earn a college degree, provide them with job-ready skills in high-tech industries, and to reduce their college debt. Students at Summit Tech enter the MIC as high school juniors, and by the time they graduate from high school they will have completed an associate degree from Metropolitan Community College in Lee’s Summit, and within the next two years, they will have earned a bachelor’s degree from UCM. They also will have benefitted from paid internship experiences with local high-tech businesses.

Since early in 2014, leaders from Lee’s Summit R-7 and UCM have been discussing a shared facility that would provide a solution to the growth challenges faced at Summit Technology Academy and Missouri Innovation Campus as well as at the UCM Summit Center, which has been UCM’s main extended campus facility since 2000. Through the agreement approved by both R-7 and UCM governing boards during December 2014, the two educational organizations would share space and equipment, saving money for the local school district and UCM.

 For more information about the no-tax-increase bond issue, visit To learn more about the MIC, go to