The Shawnee Mission Education Foundation annual breakfast, featuring Superintendent Dr. Gene Johnson’s annual “State of the District” address as usual filled the ballroom at the Overland Park Convention Center this morning.
The crowd heard Johnson both detail the accomplishments of the district over the last year and make a plea to change the recent state funding decline by supporting pro-education legislators who will help bring more local control to schools in determining their financial futures.
The district now serves 27,500 students across 14 cities. There are 71 languages spoken among the district’s students and more than 300 of them are homeless. In spite of those challenges, and funding reductions that have reduced the district staff by more than 400 over the last three years and caused more than $25 million in budget cuts, Johnson chronicled an impressive list of achievements by Shawnee Mission students.
The journalism program at SM East was noted for its multiple awards and the science lab at Highlands Elementary, funded by the school’s community foundation, was a highlight of the video presentation. Brookwood, Briarwood and Tomahawk were honored as Green Business Award winners in Johnson County and Brookwood’s program won national honors.
Three of the seven Kansas International Baccalaureate programs are at Shawnee Mission schools and its graduating seniors last year won more than $50 million in scholarship money.
On the wish list if funding is restored is all day kindergarten at all elementary schools, lower class sizes and a social worker to serve homeless students.