Lee's Summit R-7 School District

LSR7 announces plans to purchase Paradise Park

The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District has approved a letter of intent to purchase Paradise Park, the amusement park and family fun center located at 1021 NE Colbern Road.

Under the ownership of Jon and Juli Ellis, Paradise Park has served as a community hub for fun and learning for more than three decades.

“Discovery, learning and innovating has always been an integral part of the spirit of Paradise Park,” said Jon Ellis, who co-founded the park with his wife, Juli, in 1991. “As we considered our next steps, it was important to find a buyer whose vision allowed for Paradise Park to continue to serve as a community space where our youth can thrive.”

The district’s immediate vision is for the facility to be home to the district’s second early education center, a spending priority voters approved through the district’s June 2020 no-tax-rate-increase bond issue.

Great Beginnings Early Education Center programs have been at capacity for many years, and satellite classrooms are located and relocated each year in elementary schools with extra space.  A second early education center equips the district to manage the early childhood program’s current needs and expand the number of early learners it can serve.

“Paradise Park will provide the type of modern, state-of-the-art multi-faceted campus needed to keep our promise to taxpayers: to open a second early education center to support our current satellite classrooms and the expansion of our early ed programs,” Superintendent Dr. David Buck.

However, the 15-acre campus will also provide an opportunity for the district to reimagine other ways to utilize the park’s ample indoor and outdoor spaces, said Dr. Buck.

“It’s exciting to think about the broad possibilities, such as secondary workforce experiences or community engagement events, this unique campus will provide our school system in the future,” Dr. Buck said.

Voters approved a second early education center as part of the district’s June 2020 $224 million no tax rate increase bond issue, and the property will be purchased with 2020 bond resources. The district originally planned to locate the early education center in the north wing of Prairie View Elementary and renovate a portion of the district’s largest elementary school before the 2022-23 school year.

However, the benefits of locating the expanded program at a facility that includes existing infrastructure to support early learners’ needs, as well as room to grow, compelled the district to evaluate locating the second early education center at Paradise Park. Park facilities at the property already include an outdoor children’s garden, “Discovery Play” area with age-appropriate play areas, children’s bathrooms, classroom spaces, administrative offices and more.

In addition, the Ellis family offered the property, appraised at $8.9 million earlier this year, to the School District for $6 million. A sale is expected to be finalized this summer.

“We are deeply grateful to the Ellis family,” Dr. Buck said, “Their generosity empowered the district to pursue an exceptional opportunity for our students that will serve our school community well into the future.”

Many of Paradise Park’s outdoor attractions will remain in place following the transaction. Several of the indoor entertainment equipment and attractions will not be included in the transaction and will be repurposed by Ellis in other locations. This will also open up existing indoor space where classrooms will be needed within the facility.

The district plans to locate part of the district’s burgeoning R-7 Online Academy program at Prairie View Elementary starting this year.

“We are excited about being a catalyst to help the district not just find the ideal space for a new early education center, but to play an important part of building a sustainable and cutting-edge education program for our early learners,” Ellis said. “By handing leadership to LSR7, we can’t help but feel Paradise Park is in the best hands moving forward.”

To view a video about the upcoming sale, please visit our YouTube page.

Paradise Park co-founder and owner Jon Ellis converses with Superintendent Dr. David Buck at Paradise Park.

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