District releases formal recommendations for Monday’s board meeting; calls for ‘middle school building upgrades’

Superintendent Gene Johnson
Shawnee Mission School District superintendent Gene Johnson apparently wasn’t swayed enough by the advocacy of local parents to take the proposed closure of Mission Valley off the agenda for Monday’s board meeting. But he has added a new recommendation: to form a committee to look at what improvement would need to be made to district middle schools to “adequately deliver” a program of study.

The district yesterday released a list of the formal recommendations the board of education will vote on at its meeting 7 p.m. Monday at SM North High School. At the close of the release announcing the recommendations is the following sentence:

The superintendent will also present a report to the board at Monday’s meeting regarding his intent to appoint a committee to determine a scope of middle school building upgrades that should be implemented in Shawnee Mission middle schools to adequately deliver the middle school program of studies.

This prompted another round of head scratching from a number of Save Mission Valley parents.

“How can the board possibly vote to close two middle schools when the administration admits that they don’t know how they are going to adequately deliver the middle school program of studies?,” Save Mission Valley committee member Meridith Bihuniak wrote us in an email. “What about those kids that do not get their programs adequately delivered while the superintendent and his committee ‘fix’ the consequences of prematurely closing two schools? Building additions and radical improvements take months, possibly years. There are hundreds of current sixth and seventh graders that are going to pay the price for this mistake.”

The district did decide to remove the proposed closure of Shawanoe Elementary in Shawnee from its final list of recommendations. A group of Shawnee area parents had formed a group similar to Save Mission Valley hoping to save both Shawanoe and Bonjour Elementaries.