With no-vote on Brookwood reassignment, board makes Mission Valley’s future brighter

Brookwood Beavers will still be heading to SM East.

It wasn’t clean. And it wasn’t decisive. But the Shawnee Mission School District’s move on Monday not to vote on the proposal to assign Brookwood Elementary to the SM South attendance area produced the result that dozens of Brookwood parents had hoped for after weeks of lobbying. Moreover, it made the prospect of closing Mission Valley Middle School seem much less likely.

Brookwood parent Steve Bledsoe, who had been active in campaigning against the proposal to move Brookwood into the SM South area, said after the meeting he was “ecstatic.”

“Obviously, it was a procedural move,” he said. “But I don’t care much about how they decided to reject the proposal. The important thing is that it didn’t pass.”

The planned vote on the proposal to close Mission Valley was postponed until the district has received the report of a committee it will be forming to explore upgrades to area middle schools. Superintendent Gene Johnson told the board he wanted the committee to issue its report before February 1, 2011. Once the report is submitted, the board will be asked to vote on the proposals to close both Mission Valley and Antioch Middle Schools. But without the passage of the proposal to realign Brookwood, closing Mission Valley would mean sending even more students to Indian Hills, and would require students who live in the Brookwood area to make a long trip.

SM South parent David Willig addressing the board.

Though a majority of the parents who spoke out about Mission Valley and Brookwood during the open forum strongly encouraged the board to reject the proposals, some SM South parents came out in support of reassigning Brookwood, saying it would create more equity.

SM South parent David Willig told the board that his son had to make unfair choices about what classes to take because the offerings at SM South weren’t as robust as those at SM East. He said the district needed to end the arrangement that produced “boutique schools for an elite few.”

Shawnee Mission School District board of education member Larry Winn said at the end of the meeting that the no-vote on Brookwood left a “dangling participle,” and encouraged the board to explore ways to bring more stability to the SM South population moving forward.

After the meeting, Johnson told shawneemissionpost.com that the board’s move on Brookwood would have an impact on how the district proceeded with the proposal to close Mission Valley, but said the district would have to reexamine the forecast attendance numbers before it could announce how it planned to act.