Thursday, August 22, 2013

Grandview School District On Track to 'Accredited with Distinction' Status

By Mary Wilson
The Grandview School District will be patting their own backs after good news regarding the 5th cycle of the Missouri School Improvement Plan (MSIP). The district received their Annual Performance Report (APR), which incorporates a three-year data period as the scoring guide, and presented the information to the school board on Thursday, August 15.

The MSIP 5 scoring guide evaluates the district as a whole, as well as each individual building, on five state standards to determine district and site level accreditation. Preliminary APR indicate that with the exception of one site, the district and the remaining schools demonstrated strong progress. The district as a whole, as well as Belvidere, Martin City K-8, and Grandview High School all show signs of being proportionate to the “Accredited with Distinction” indicator on the MSIP 5 scoring guide. Grandview Middle, Conn-West, Butcher Greene and Meadowmere are all projected to fall into the “Accredited” indicator.

“We’re looking at academic standards, college and career readiness standards, attendance standards and graduation standards,” said Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Lisa Walker. “All of the fourteen standards (from last year) are still there. In fact, it’s a more rigorous scoring guide that we’re transitioning to.”

Based on the 2012 data, Butcher Greene was the only school that showed scores high enough to be “Accredited with Distinction.” The district as a whole, and three other schools, showed scores ranging in the “Accredited” range. Conn-West and Martin City showed “Provisionally Accredited” score ranges, and Grandview Middle School came in at “Unaccredited”, based on the data from the previous three years.

Now the data from the 2012-13 school year is coming in, and with that the district was able to see preliminary results based on the figures received.

“We cannot share specific percentages with you at this time,” said Walker. “The results posted on Monday, August 19th, are embargoed until August 23rd. But based on the preliminary numbers, we project that because of the growth that we’ve seen this past year, in combination with the previous two years, the district, Belvidere, Martin City and Grandview High School will land in the accredited with distinction range.”

Walker stated that when the numbers are released, the district believes that the “Accredited” group of schools will be at the high end of the range. The numbers are still working drafts, and the district will spend the next three years transitioning to MSIP 5. The district will not receive the first official designation from MSIP 5 until 2015. Because it is a more rigorous scoring guide, and college and career readiness standards are being tracked in addition to the other standards, the state has given districts three years to work towards the MSIP 5 standards.

“The next step for us will be to look at each school to see how every grade level within the school is doing,” said Walker. “We’ve had some great progress, and we have to continue that progress to keep getting the status at a higher level. We’re all aware of that. We have some good evidence that the choices that we’ve made, and the focus that we’ve been putting forth, are working and we need to keep expanding that.”

Walker explained that while there is great progress throughout the entire district, she felt proud of the work done at the high school level in mathematics. District Superintendent Dr. Ralph Teran said that the task of the district is to continue on the path they are on, and sustain the progress seen.

“Continue to climb and distribute it throughout the whole year,” said Teran. “Distribute it throughout all the leadership. We really can do this and we can sustain it. It’s doable if we begin to replicate the things that work. We’re as good as anyone else. I think that’s our message for this year, that we really can live in this place and thrive in this place.”

Also at the meeting, Grandview Chamber of Commerce President Kim Curtis provided an update to the board regarding economic development in the community. According to Curtis, the chamber’s role is to bring the business community together for networking and advocacy, while the economic development council is tasked with retention as well as working with the city on creating new businesses and jobs, and community promotion.

“When we talk about partnering,” said Curtis, “we were very involved in the April bond issue that passed successfully. Beyond the board supporting that, it was also very hands on for us.”

The Chamber provided meeting space for the bond initiative, as well as other resources that the district was able to tap into. Curtis also thanked the district for the stadium improvements.

“With all the things going in on Main Street, we just thought that it was something that would carry over to the other side of what is now I-49,” said Curtis. “We’re really proud that you did that. We hear a lot of things about it within the community. It just adds to the idea that Grandview is becoming a different city, and it makes the school district very much a part of that.”

Curtis also talked about Truman Corners redevelopment and that the last day of business for Sam’s Club in Grandview will be August 29.

“While that’s bad news for the city, it’s good news in terms of what we have planned in their place,” said Curtis. “Hopefully within a year, we’ll have something built. RED Development can’t announce anything yet, but they have some great letters of intent from some great retailers.”

According to Curtis, the ownership group for the newly opened Hampton Inn in Belton is looking at the possibility of building another hotel (under a different name) off of 150 Highway in Grandview. There are also a few shops opening soon on Main Street, including Local Roots Market at 808 Main Street and a pizza-by-the-slice/sandwich shop to go in the former Long John Silver’s building.

Jeff Spangler, Development Director from the Bright Futures organization, introduced himself to the board, and provided a little background on the program that the district is working to implement this school year. Bright Futures

USA is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing communities together to focus on the success of children. This grassroots movement uses the Bright Futures framework to engage businesses, human service agencies, faith-based organizations, and parent groups within communities to meet the needs of children so every child can be successful, now and in the future. On February 7, 2013, the District hosted a community gathering to share information about the Bright Futures program and evaluate the level of interest in initiating the program in our community. On March 14, 2013, the Board of Education unanimously approved becoming a Bright Futures Affiliate. To follow the progress of the initiative, follow them on Facebook by searching Bright Futures Grandview.

Finally, board member Barbara Polette requested that the renewal of membership to the National School Boards Association (NSBA) National Affiliate Program. The National Affiliate program is available through a partnership with the Missouri School Boards Association (MSBA) and NSBA. The Grandview C-4 Board of Education has maintained membership in NSBA at various times over the years, including in 2012 and 2013. Board policy states that the Board will seek to participate as fully as possible in these two organizations.

The NSBA National Affiliate Program includes critical information and resources that can be accessed through monthly webinars, special reports, monthly video casts, news alerts, networking programs and member discounts for the NSBA annual conference.

Also, NSBA provides a powerful voice to Congress which can impact the way laws affecting education are crafted and enacted. The National Affiliate program fee for the district’s enrollment category is $4,675.00 for the period of October 1, 2013 through September 30, 2014.

“I just wanted to know what we got last year for our $4600,” said Polette. “How has our membership in this organization benefitted our students or teachers?”

Board Vice President Leonard Greene responded by saying, “When we expose ourselves to other school districts outside of our immediate area, we’re able to learn different things.”

 Board President Cindy Bastian noted the benefits that were outlined in the board item. Bastian also pointed out the policies that address the fact that the district should retain their membership in both organizations.

The membership renewal was ultimately passed by the board, with Polette opposing. It was then discussed
that the membership should be used to its full extent in order to be worthwhile in the future.
The next regular meeting for the Grandview School Board will be on Thursday, September 19, at 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Massive Development on the Horizon in SKC

By Mary Wilson

The South Kansas City Alliance welcomed good news from David Frantze, a land development attorney representing Cerner Corporation with their recent announcement to acquire and develop on the former Bannister Mall site. Sixth District Councilman John Sharp introduced Frantze to the group.
“I admit, and we all do, that we’ve had our hearts broken before,” said Sharp. “This is the real deal.”
After the Governor showed disinterest in the land assemblage tax credit that South KC was pushing for, legislators for South Kansas City went forth looking for help. The state then was able to provide an additional $10 million in tax credits for the project. Cerner developers then approved to move forward with their plans to acquire the land.
“We’re poised to see real activity there,” said Sharp. “We’re poised to see this area come to life again. I think we all know it’s not going to only spring that little area to life, it’s going to spring all of South Kansas City to life.”
 The current owners of the property include two Cerner executives, and is not owned or controlled by Cerner Corporation. Cerner Corporation, as of right now, has entered into a contract to buy 237 acres at the former Bannister Mall site, consisting of the former mall site, the former Benjamin Plaza site, and the former Bannister Square site, all of which are currently owned by Trails Properties, who bought the site originally with the idea of a mixed-use development to include retail and a soccer stadium.
 Cerner Corporation owns five buildings at the old Marion Labs site, and needs additional room to expand.
“When Cerner acquired that property, they committed to the city to have 300 people there, and now there’s 2800 people there,” said Frantze. “Cerner is fast-growing.”
 According to Frantze, Cerner’s current buildings are at, or close to, capacity. Last year, Cerner added 2200 people to its operations in Kansas City. The contract currently in place calls for Cerner to have a six-month due diligence period on the site to perform environmental condition and title investigations, as well as time to work through the incentive process.
 The project Cerner is wanting to implement would have a total of 4.4 million square feet of buildings, 3.7 million of which is office space. Roughly 400,000 is retail space and the remainder is ancillary facilities.
“Their campus north of the river is 1.1 million square feet,” said Frantze. “This is a little over three times as big as that campus.” According to Frantze, the total cost of the project will be around $2.3 billion, and will consist of fourteen buildings/phases. The average building size will be around 370,000 square feet.
 “The one thing I can promise you is every projection will be wrong,” said Frantze, in order to distinguish that these are just estimates. “The anticipation is that these buildings will be built over ten years. That is based on putting 1200-1400 new employees on site each year.”
 The basic design of the buildings will be scalable, based on current projections of need as the project is rolled out over the ten-year period. The retail part of the development will be focused on the south end of the site, and will not be intended to be destination shopping. Current projections show a major grocery store.
 “To give you some sense, they already have been contacted by a grocery store operator since this project was announced to be in the area once this thing gets moving,” said Frantze. “We have a lot to do. The deal is, we have six months to work through everything.”
 Cerner Corporation has until December 27, 2013, to decide whether to buy or not buy the property. Of the $2.2 billion total cost, the developer will pay 70% and the remaining 30% will be split between TIF, the super TIF and the state TIF. Prior to closing, the current owners will be responsible for the demolition of unoccupied buildings on the site.
“It’s a massive project,” said Frantze. “It’s an exciting project. The state has told us this is far and away the largest development project they’ve ever worked on. It’s about four and a half times the size of the Ford Motor factory.”
Frantze anticipates, since the Cerner Board of Directors approved to move forward into this contract, final purchase approval in December. According to Sharp, contributions will be made totaling $8 million of the plan’s budget for neighborhood improvements surrounding the site. There will be a neighborhood advisory committee to make recommendations.
The next regular meeting for the South Kansas City Alliance will be on Monday, September 9 at 6 p.m., at 3 Trails Center, 5912 E Bannister Rd. in Kansas City.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cerner Makes Strides at 3-Trails

By Mary Wilson
South Kansas City residents last week breathed a collective sigh of relief at an announcement concerning the former Bannister Mall property. Cerner Corporation has entered into an agreement to purchase the approximately 237 acres in the Three Trails Crossing region on the site, pending the completion of due diligence activities and the securing of appropriate financial incentives.

The company plans to use the location as a site to accommodate expected growth.

“(The) unanimous approval by the Missouri Development Finance Board of $10.7 million in state tax credits marks a major positive step in the redevelopment of the former Bannister Mall site,” said Kansas City 5th and 6th District Councilmembers Cindy Circo, Scott Taylor, John Sharp and Michael Brooks in a collective statement. “All four of us have worked hard to help find an effective redevelopment plan for the area. We all look forward to continuing to work together, and with Trails Properties II, to ensure that this is a successful project for south Kansas City.”

With the support of Governor Jay Nixon, as well as support from Kansas City Mayor Sly James, it is the goal of the Councilmembers that the Three Trails Redevelopment Project will not only revitalize the land it will sit on, but will encourage and foster further investment in the area.

“Cerner’s significant growth necessitates that we plan now to accommodate our future space needs,” said Marc Naughton, Cerner’s chief financial officer.

Naughton added that if conditions to close are satisfied, it is anticipated the purchase would be completed by the end of 2013. Cerner already employs over 2,800 associates at its nearby Innovation campus and the new site would be an extension of that campus. Cerner currently employs 8,794 in the Kansas City metropolitan area. The expanded campus, if constructed, would potentially house up to 15,000 additional associates upon full build-out, which would be based on Cerner’s growth and occur over an extended period.

“From day one, my administration has pursued proven, fiscally responsible policies to make Missouri a more attractive place for high-tech, high-growth companies like Cerner to invest and expand,” Gov. Nixon said. “We continue to see the results of this approach paying real dividends for communities in Kansas City and across our state. My administration will continue to work with Cerner and local officials as plans for this transformative project proceed.”

The Councilmembers were encouraged by a revised plan presented in February that called for over a million square feet of office and retail space over the next seven years that would create a significant number of jobs. Cerner has shown the ability to create economic impact across the metro. The Councilmembers look forward to them bringing that positive impact to south Kansas City.

“We would like to thank Governor Nixon and Mayor James for their support of this project, as well as the staff at the city and state level who have worked with Trails Properties II to put these tax credits together to move this project forward,” added the Councilmembers.

Mayor James also commented on the announcement:
“This is a great step forward for the former Bannister Mall site,” said the Mayor. “South Kansas City has been on an impressive forward trajectory in recent months but this site has remained an issue. Redeveloping the Three Trails Crossing region into a Cerner property will turn that area into a beacon of innovation. Cerner is a valuable community partner and I deeply appreciate the company’s commitment to our City. We look forward to working with Cerner to finalize a plan soon.”

Cerner anticipates the extended campus would include on-site daycare, a clinic for associates, fitness facilities, food service and training spaces. It could also house future data centers as needed. A portion of the site may be made available to be developed as retail stores, restaurants, or a hotel.