One of the questions I’m asked most frequently by parents of young students in our schools focuses on Independence Primary School and Independence Middle School. “When do you think we’ll build new schools?” My answers are usually vague and optimistic: “We need to!” “Hopefully soon!” “We are collaborating and planning that now!”
I am excited about our upcoming collaboration with City of Independence leaders on shared projects, including the potential for new buildings. Though we were not ultimately successful with our 2019 bond issue, we had a great core of community support and now have many community members energized for new school facilities. You do not have to go far to see surrounding cities that have invested in new school buildings. I am hopeful we can provide the same modern, relevant learning environments for Independence’s youngest residents. We are actively working to plan the best proposal for our school facilities to our community. We are also aware of changing dynamics in school and city funding and gauging the impact Covid-19 will have on our school facility planning.
While there is excitement for the future of our Independence Local Schools, our present reality has our preschool through fourth-grade students attending an aging school that was built in the 1950s and our fifth through eighth-grade students in one which was built in the 1960s. While we keep IPS and IMS clean and maintained, we have space constraints, outdated infrastructure, and increasing costs to operate. All of this is in classrooms designed for the ‘50s and ‘60s.
While I do not believe it would be wise at this time to invest in significant system replacements to make our primary and middle schools modern while still planning to transform our learning environments with long-term construction projects, we have the present need to keep them as clean, safe, and as operational as possible for today’s students. This means we must continue to be good stewards of community funding for our operations. A significant portion of that funding comes from our permanent improvement levy.
On November 2, our community will be presented with the choice to renew our permanent improvement levy. This source of funding is a very important part of us keeping our facilities in order. My hope is that you are able to review our operational spending outlined in this Independence Quarterly and please reach out to me or Tom Dreiling with any questions.
Thank you for showing your I-Pride and supporting your Blue Devils!
- Ben Hegedish, Superintendent, Independence Local Schools