Communication Series Part 4
February 6, 2022
Part 4. Why the Need for a New Knob Noster High School Innovation Campus
Dear Knob Noster Public Schools Families and Community:
In most communities across our nation, the hub of the community is the local school. Look no further than a Friday night football game, Veterans Day event, a school play production, or any lunch period on a random weekday and you will find a community engaging within its schools. While schools are primarily established to deliver education, they also serve in a variety of additional roles for their community. Knob Noster Public Schools has a rich tradition of strong community engagement and interaction from all facets of the Knob Noster and Whiteman AFB communities.
Knob Noster’s original consolidated school was constructed in 1939. That facility served as Knob Noster High School for 24 years until the current Knob Noster High School was constructed in 1963. Now, nearly 60 years later, the district is addressing the need to construct a new high school to carry the district and community forward for the next 60 years, and beyond.
In late 2016, the district completed a long-range facility assessment to help identify the current condition and capacity of our existing schools to meet the needs of our students. This study includes existing maintenance needs, enrollment trends and capacity, educational and extracurricular adequacy, and additional known facility needs. Items identified on the “known facility needs” list include, but are not limited to, the following: Career Technical Facilities (JROTC, Agriculture, Business, Engineering), Performing Arts Center, Science Classrooms and Labs, Preschool, Middle School Athletic Facilities, additional Gymnasium Space, and Safety issues, among many others.
As we evaluated the scope and breadth of these needs individually and collectively, it was clear that the need was significant. At that point, we recognized that construction of a new Knob Noster High School should be considered as a possible solution. We immediately realized that altogether, these items represented a large portion of what would be included in the cost of a new school. At the same time, we realized that if the district began investing significant amounts of money to add these facility components to our existing facilities, we would, by default, be committing the district to remaining in the current building configuration for the future.
We then shifted to assessing Knob Noster Middle School capacity. While the current building is functional, it offers very little in the way of middle school career technical education, athletics, or performing arts. We began thinking about the possibility of shifting Knob Noster Middle School to the current Knob Noster High School campus, which would provide a much greater capacity to serve middle school needs.
With this concept, we then shifted to what this would mean for our elementary grades. Since 2013, the district has been aware of the need for a comprehensive preschool program, as expressed in the community survey conducted at that time. The district was fortunate to receive a $1 million federal grant in 2020 to open doors to the Little Wingmen Preschool at Whiteman Elementary. Whiteman Elementary was chosen, in part, because it was the only building with available space to house the program. This year, the program expanded to four classrooms. At this time, the district has no further space in which to expand this program. A new High School facility would allow for expansion of our preschool program into Knob Noster Elementary School while also allowing additional space to expand this program at Whiteman Elementary.
Since this planning began in 2016, another significant development has occurred. Over the last several years, the district has seen a 15% increase in student enrollment, which has created additional space and capacity constraints. During this time, our district performance has continued to excel. As a result, the district receives calls daily from families wanting to become a part of the Knob Noster Public Schools community.
With these and many other issues being considered, the following proposal was developed and designed to not only meet the community’s PreK-12 education needs, but also to leverage the school district to create economic development, historic preservation, performing arts, parks and recreation, and tourism components for the Knob Noster community. As previously described in this communication series, the role of the public school stretches far beyond just education. This comprehensive project proposed by Knob Noster Public Schools is designed to deliver significant and long-term enhancements to quality of life for Knob Noster and Whiteman AFB for the next 60 years and beyond. The following components are included in the proposed project.
1. New Knob Noster High School Innovation Campus:
- Robust K-12 Certificated Career Pathways in STEM, Robotics, Cybersecurity, and Aviation
- Transitioning Veteran Job Placement as Specialty Educators in the Above Pathways, and Others
- Certificated Career Pathways for Students and eventually for Transitioning Veterans (Adult Learning) in the Above Fields of Study creating a unique STEM Ecosystem
- Robust Advanced Placement / Dual Credit Courses and Unlimited Virtual Learning Options for All Learners, Creating An Early College High School
- Expanded Preschool / Childcare Services for Families
2. Multiple All-Weather Indoor and Outdoor Joint-Use Youth and Adult Athletic and Activities Facilities
3. Integrated FEMA P-361 Safe Room and Storm Shelter Available to the Knob Noster and Whiteman AFB Communities
4. Integrated Whiteman/Air Force History Museum and Performing Arts Center Operated by KNPS Students (Alternate Component Based on Grant Funding)
* Add on project planning will follow with Private Partners for off-base Housing Developments
The above plan would allow Knob Noster Middle School to shift to the current Knob Noster High School campus. The district would create an upper elementary at KNMS, and thereby create space in our existing elementary buildings to house preschool programs.
As described later in this series, the majority of funding to support these construction projects will originate from federal funds. Ongoing operational revenues will be generated by increased student enrollment over time, with an emphasis on increases in federal Impact Aid. In addition, increases in preschool enrollment will also be critical in generating new funding to support district operations. New School construction will almost certainly drive new residential development as well, increasing the tax base for school district operations.
Knob Noster Public Schools continues to perform as one of the best school districts in the state, and is emerging as a national leader in many areas. As our programs continue to evolve to provide our students an excellent foundation for success in college, career, and life, we recognize the need to enhance our facilities to support these programs. This comprehensive plan is designed to provide students world-class facilities in which they will receive a world-class educational experience, while also bringing a host of benefits to our community.
On behalf of the KNPS team and our 1900 students, thank you for your time in reviewing this communication series. As always, my door is open to you and our community if you would like more information. Knob Noster Public Schools – Our Mission Is Student Success!
Jerrod Wheeler, Ed. D
Superintendent of Schools
NOTICE: February 2 Forum Rescheduled to February 9
Our Mission Is Student Success