The votes are in, and the story of the year for the SM East area was the closing of Mission Valley. This week, we’ll be running a couple of posts reviewing the events leading up to the Dec. 13 meeting during which the board voted to close Mission Valley and move Brookwood into the SM South feeder pattern. Today, we’ll take a look back at September, October, and the first part of November:
Summer 2010: Parents throughout the area speculate that the district will be looking to close an area middle school, though many assume Indian Hills will be targeted since Mission Valley recently had a brand new library built.
September 13: Citing major budget shortfalls, superintendent Gene Johnson unveils 11 proposals to close schools and shift attendance boundaries to save money. The proposals include closing Mission Valley, shifting Brookwood to the SM South feeder pattern, and moving Roesland Park students from Indian Hills to Hocker Grove.
Shortly thereafter, a group of Mission Vally parents form a committee to lobby for keeping the school open. With a theme song and Don’t Compromise: Save Mission Valley yard signs, they make their presence quickly felt.
September 21: The district hosts a meeting seeking community input on the proposal to move Brookwood to the SM South feeder pattern. Dozens of animated parents voice their objection to the plan.
Week of September 26: The Save Mission Valley committee, which has collected more than 800 signatures in an online petition in just two weeks, puts out a report outlining several reasons for keeping the school open. A group of Brookwood parents issue a similar document questioning the need to realign their school.
October 4: The district holds its community meeting on the proposal to close Mission Valley, during which the Save Mission Valley members present several sections of the report they put together refuting the district’s rationale for wanting to close the school.
November 8: Everyone expects action on Mission Valley at the district’s board of education meeting, but board president Deb Zila announces that the votes on Mission Valley and Antioch middles schools have been taken off the agenda until the district completes a study to “determine a scope of upgrades that would be applicable to district middle schools.” Johnson says he wants the results of the study delivered before early February 2011. The announcement is met with applause from many parents in the audience.
Later in the meeting, board member Craig Denney makes a motion to vote on the proposal to move Brookwood into the SM South feeder pattern. None of the other board members second the motion, and the item does not come up for a vote. Many people are under the impression the motion has technically failed, and can’t be reintroduced at a later date. It appears that Brookwood will be staying in the SM East feeder pattern, and Mission Valley’s future is brighter. The board also votes to move Roesland students out of Indian Hills, and into the SM North feeder pattern for middle school.
November 10: Two days after the meeting, Kansas City Star columnist Mike Hendricks says the Shawnee Mission school board “wimped out” in an effort to appease SM East area parents.
A day later, board president Deb Zila sends an email message with the subject line “Disappointment” to the rest of the board members, citing Hendricks’ column and saying that her confidence in them to act on behalf of all students in the district has been shaken.
Tomorrow we’ll recap what happened after the Nov. 8 board meeting, leading up to the Dec. 13 vote to close the school.