Land Questions

In response to concerns from residents about our land at 68th Street and Waukomis Drive, the Board reviewed the master plan for the site. After public comment, the Board approved the plan.

Natural beauty of this land:
Our plans work with the natural beauty of the land and leave as much of the wooded area as possible.

Line Creek Trail:
The section of the Line Creek Trail that runs along the edge of our property belongs to the city of Kansas City, Missouri, and we are excited to have this public amenity so close to our new schools.

Plans for this land:
Our long-range facility plan calls for this land to house Hopewell Elementary and the LEAD Innovation Studio, which is a high-school program. We will build the LEAD Innovation Studio so that, if we have enough enrollment growth, it can be the first phase of a third high school. Our current master plan for our land leaves a great deal of the wooded area untouched.

Environmental impact of our construction:
We will continue to use environmentally friendly building practices, just as we did with the construction of our last school, Tiffany Ridge Elementary. Our guide for these practices comes from the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. These LEED standards include sustainability and regional impacts.

Schedule for construction:
Construction recently began for Hopewell Elementary, so it can open in time for school in August 2019. Construction will begin in January for the LEAD Innovation Studio, so it can open in time for school in August 2020.

Goals for this property:
When we hired experts to develop the master plan for this property, we worked with them to develop goals for our projects:

  • Minimize site disturbance
  • Preserve as many trees as possible
  • Prioritize school location and visibility
  • Prioritize safe and efficient site circulation
  • Allow for future school expansion
  • Allow for future site flexibility

Reports of plans to bulldoze the woods or put up a strip mall:
Our current master plan for our land leaves a great deal of the wooded area untouched. We have no current plans to bulldoze these woods or to sell to a developer. Because we do not yet know what our future enrollment growth will require, we do not know how we will need to use the land in the future or whether we will need all of it.

Need for schools:
For the last 30 years, the Park Hill School District grew at a rate of one or two percent each year. This slow, steady enrollment increase meant that we needed to keep building schools to avoid crowded classrooms. We spent the last five years planning to accommodate all the new students moving into our district, and we did this with a great deal of community participation. In April 2017, our voters overwhelming approved a no-tax-increase bond issue to fund building the schools our students need.

Aug. 7 Informational Presentation

Aug. 7 informational presentation on 68th and Waukomis property (PDF)

Below are the responses to frequently asked questions from the Aug. 7 informational presentation. We kept all the questions and comments we received that evening for our records.

Plan for Unused Land:
As promised, we will wait to see our future enrollment before making decisions about our property. It would not be responsible for us to give away district resources. We will follow the master plan for this site, continuing to work with experts to take care of the land. We do not want to tie the hands of future Board members who might have to make choices about using the land.

Archaeology Survey:
We worked with archaeologists to make sure we complied with all the regulations from the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office about seeing if there were possible artifacts on our land. It would have been exciting to find significant artifacts near Hopewell Elementary, which is named after ancient native cultures in our area. Since we did not find any, we will have to partner with local archaeologists and anthropologists to see artifacts from other nearby sites.

Tree Disposal:
Our contractor burned trees because it was estimated to cost $50,000 to remove them from our property. The contractor made the mistake of burning them on an ozone alert day and received notice from the city. We communicated our expectation that this would not happen again. We will be replanting trees.

Once complete, the road at 68th and Waukomis is the responsibility of the City of Kansas City, Missouri. The city already had the plans and location for the Line Creek Parkway established in its Major Street Plan before we purchased the land. Our purchase did not change this. Our Board or any future owner would have to accommodate the city’s Major Street Plan, which includes this road. We established construction budgets before we selected the site. All projects are different and have different costs. The cost of the road to Hopewell did not change our budget, which we set at $23.75 million before the project began.

Our own master plan for this site calls for constructing only two lanes up to our LEAD Innovation Studio site to minimize road requirements. Our plans call for the safest, most efficient access. We cannot use Coventry or Edison as access roads to our school, because they are not big enough to provide safe access. In addition, we do not own the land we would need to build a road from this direction, so this would require homeowners to give up easements in their yards and it would require us to spend more taxpayer dollars to buy the land.

Location Details:
At 272 acres across three parcels of land, this site was big enough to build the needed schools. We had these 19 factors in mind when we looked at land:

  • Present surroundings
  • Future surroundings
  • Proper zoning
  • Relation to population
  • Relation to other facilities
  • Site size and shape
  • Topography
  • Soils
  • Influence on design
  • Educational opportunities
  • LEED opportunities
  • Vehicular access
  • Proximity to utilities
  • Site prep costs
  • Utility extension cost
  • Adjacent improvements
  • Impact on busing cost
  • Future land use plans
  • Cost

Based on careful balancing of our 19-point criteria, the land at 68th and Waukomis best met the needs of the district for our future growth. The Erickson family owned this property for more than 50 years. They did not live on or near the property, and they were trying to develop it.

It was never public property nor open to the public.

Land Timeline:
Our April 2011 no-tax-increase bond issue election listed land purchase for future schools. Land inquiries began in 2012, but we needed to wait for the enrollment-based, long-range facility plan. Because we did additional research and public engagement on the high-school plans, the land for a high school facility was the last decision. Our April 2017 no-tax-increase bond issue was for funds to build the schools and facilities we need for our long-range facility plans.

LEAD Innovation Studio:
There are no plans currently to expand LEAD into a third high school, but we will design in it a way that will make this possible if we have enough enrollment to need another, full high school. This building will have a small footprint, minimizing the impact to our land and integrating trees. We will be targeting the LEED (version 4) design standards, and we will be replanting trees. This site is optimally located between our two current high schools.

Public Input:
These projects are part of our enrollment-based, long-range facilities plan. Beginning in 2013, we held open forums, provided an online engagement opportunity, discussed the plan at Board of Education meetings and surveyed the community for additional feedback. The Board approved the plan in March 2015.

Like all other school districts, our Board holds meetings regarding land purchases in closed session, in accordance with section 610.021(2) of the Sunshine Law. The law calls for the Board’s decision to become public upon execution of the purchase contract. The Board announced this purchase on April 27, 2017.

This is important because discussions of land purchase can affect how much we spend in taxpayer dollars. This also protects sellers, many of whom would not be willing to negotiate if their plans were public.

We are documenting the community’s concerns about the plans for our property at 68th and Waukomis. We hosted two informational presentations, and our Board officially approved the site plans for our records. We collected and recorded for our records all the questions and comments from our informational presentation on Aug. 7.

Line Creek Trail:
The section of the Line Creek Trail that runs along the edge of our property belongs to the city of Kansas City, Missouri, and we are excited to have this public amenity so close to our new schools. Our only plans for the trail are to build the pedestrian connector to it that the city requires.

Property Taxes:
These projects will not raise your taxes. Voters approved these schools as part of our 2017 no-tax-increase bond issue. Voters approved funds for purchasing lands in the April 2011 no-tax-increase bond issue.

We are working with these groups:

  • Army Corps of Engineers
  • Architects
  • Archaeologist
  • Wetlands experts
  • Fish and wildlife expert
  • Civil engineers
  • City of Kansas City, Missouri
  • Landscapers
  • LEED consultants 

View or download the site master plan (PDF) below.

download site master plan (PDF)