Lindbergh Schools marks completion of Prop R 2008 construction projects

Simpson says district proud of Proposition R 2008 work

By MIKE ANTHONY

Lindbergh Schools last week formally marked the completion of Proposition R 2008 construction with ceremonies at three schools — Truman Middle School, Long Elementary School and Crestwood Elementary School.

Administrators, Board of Education members and students marked the occasion with ribbon-cutting ceremonies and tours of the three schools Oct. 27.

District voters approved Proposition R 2008, a $31 million bond issue, in November 2008. The school board had placed Proposition R 2008 on the ballot with the goal of providing a long-term solution to space concerns at Sperreng Middle School.

More than 1,300 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders were jammed into Sperreng, which was designed to accommodate 800 pupils when it opened in 1970.

While Sperreng remains a sixth- through eighth-grade middle school, funds from Prop R 2008 were used to convert Truman Elementary School to a sixth- through eighth-grade middle school, add onto Crest-wood and Long elementary schools, convert Concord School to an elementary school and construct a new Early Childhood Education building at 4814 S. Lindbergh Blvd.

“… It’s an exciting day for Lindbergh,” Superintendent Jim Simpson said at the ceremony for Truman Middle School, which took place in one of the school’s new science labs. “We’ve actually got a traveling ribbon-cutting, which you don’t see that often, and so you’re going to see new three times over. And we’re very excited about our new facilities …”

Noting the three ceremonies marked the completion of the Prop R 2008 projects, Simpson said, “… We’re very proud of what we’ve done with our Prop R money. It was a good time to build — a bad time for the economy, but a good time to build, low prices, lots of labor. So we really got a lot of value out of this Prop R.”

Truman originally was built in 1963 as a junior high school and later became a middle school until it was closed in 1983 due to declining enrollment.

“But that cycle has reversed and now we’re having really fairly aggressive growth in our district,” Simpson said. “We’re 600 students in five years, 145 students this year alone. Over a hundred of those students are elementary students and so if you can think about that, that is six classrooms. Six classrooms of students came to Lindbergh this year. And I know that’s something that will keep our community dynamic, having young quality families seek out Lindbergh for the quality education and also for a great place to raise children …

“Some of the upgrades at Truman include state-of-the-art science labs like the one we’re standing in right now, new performing arts rooms, family and consumer science labs and LiNC (Lindbergh Interactive Classrooms) interactive teaching technology in all classrooms …,” he said.

Board of Education President Vic Lenz, a longtime district administrator before his retirement, was the last principal of Truman when it closed as a middle school. It reopened as an elementary school in 1991 and served in that capacity until this spring.

“… This building was opened as Lindbergh North Junior High School and when Lindbergh started the first middle school in the state of Missouri in 1966, the name was changed to The Middle School,” Lenz said. “I was principal starting in 1979 and there were a lot of middle schools then and we kind of felt funny with the name ‘The.’ So we changed the name — had a committee and went through the whole process — and changed the name to Truman Middle School.

“And I can’t tell you how thrilled I am as the last middle school principal at Truman to be here when we’re reopening it as a middle school today and I can’t tell you also how thrilled I am as president of the Board of Education what a wonderful facility we have here, and I just walked through the halls a few times and to see kids and teachers with room to spread out and to learn and have an opportunity to work together through the middle school years.”

Lenz brought a few artifacts that were presented to the school when the name was changed to Truman Middle School, including a flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol that he presented to current Truman Principal Jennifer Tiller.

The board president also presented Tiller with a portrait of President Harry S. Truman that was presented to the school at that time by the Truman Library in Independence, along with a desk plaque stating, “The buck stops here.”

“I just would again like to reiterate the excitement and enthusiasm that the entire building shares in reopening as a middle school,” Tiller said. “We do not take this opportunity to start a new school lightly.

“Again, incredible enthusiasm. Every staff member is happy to come every day. One reason might be because we have windows in every single classroom throughout the building and that creates a pretty nice atmosphere for learning.

“In addition, I just wanted to say again a thank you to the community, both internal and external, district office and then the Demographic Task Force for allowing us over the last four years to really pursue what’s best for middle-level learning …,” Tiller added.

Ceremonies also marked Prop R 2008 improvements at:

• Long Elementary School, including a modern new main entrance, seven new grade-level classrooms and new music and art rooms.

• Crestwood Elementary School, including nine new grade-level classrooms, art and music rooms and a new entrance.