Lee's Summit Schools buys Paradise Park

By Mike Genet
The Examiner

The Lee’s Summit School District is buying the Paradise Park family entertainment facility on the north side of the city, in large part to serve as the district’s second early childhood center. 

Jon and Juli Ellis, who founded the 15-acre facility in 1991, are selling it to the district later this summer for $6 million. They offered the park, which is on Colbern Road a couple of blocks east of Missouri 291, to the school district for nearly $3 million less than an appraisal value from earlier this year, according to the school district.  

The Board of Education this month approved a letter of intent to purchase. 

When he and his wife founded Paradise Park, John Ellis said in a district video, “We really embraced ‘Discovery play’ and whole educational learning concept.” 

“We felt like it was a great place for this property to land.” 

District voters approved a second early education center in June 2020 as part of a $224 million bond issue, as Great Beginnings Early Education Center was full, necessitating satellite classrooms at several elementary schools. Bond money will pay for the park. 

The district had planned to locate the second early education center at Prairie View Elementary after renovating a portion of the district’s largest elementary before the 2022-23 school year, according to a school district press release. However, the existing infrastructure and the Ellis’ offer of $6 million altered those district’s plans. Paradise Park had been closed through the pandemic. 

Lee’s Summit Superintendent David Buck said park will serve as “a second Great Beginnings, if you will, as well as opportunities for the rest of our K through 12 to have learning experiences here throughout the year.” 

Park facilities already include an outdoor children’s garden, play areas, children’s bathrooms, classroom spaces and administrative offices. 

Also, the park has video games, rock walls, escape rooms, laser tag, bumper cars and miniature golf. According to the district, many of the outdoor attractions will remain in place, but many pieces of indoor entertainment equipment will be repurposed by Ellis, leaving indoor space for additional classrooms.