LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — The Lee’s Summit, Missouri, R-7 School District is expanding. It opened its fourth middle school Tuesday at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year.
East Trails Middle School is at 1001 SE Bailey Road. The $72 million campus includes a baseball and softball complex for students from Lee’s Summit High School, which had been using city parks for practices and games. The district is paying for the changes thanks to a voter-approved bond in 2020; the bond did not increase taxes.
Superintendent Dr. David Buck said the new school is necessary because of a growing student population. Many of the district’s 18 elementary schools were over capacity. With the opening of East Trails Middle School, along with renovations to the three other middle schools, this year Lee’s Summit is transitioning its sixth grade students from elementary to middle school. The move opens up capacity at elementary schools and gives middle school students more opportunities for electives and advanced courses.
“We talked in 2012 about moving sixth grade up [to middle school] and since then we’ve talked about what sixth grade would have in schools,” Buck explained.
The new school breaks each grade into a pod or neighborhood. Two stories of classrooms surround each grade’s pod. Students attend all their core classes within those classrooms. The center of the pod is full of lockers and flexible learning spaces to foster collaboration.
“That’s what we hear from employers and research, is not only do students need the basics, they need to know how to work with each other. Your success depends on mine, and my success depends on you, so we need to build that in their educational experience,” Buck said.
Art, music, physical education and other specialized classes take place in one particular location for all three grade levels.
About 950 students will attend East Trails Middle School this year, but it has the capacity for more than 1,200 students. One of its gymnasiums is built as a tornado shelter with reinforced walls and roof to withstand winds of 200 miles per hour.