In accepting superintendent appointment, Hinson says school finances pose greatest challenge to SMSD

Dr. Jim Hinson (left) will replace Dr. Gene Johnson July 1.

Calling it a district with a “great tradition,” Dr. Jim Hinson on Monday officially accepted his appointment as the next superintendent of Shawnee Mission Schools.

“You always do what is best for kids,” Hinson told the board Monday night immediately after his appointment. Currently the superintendent of the Independence School District, Hinson will take over for Dr. Gene Johnson July 1. Hinson has been a superintendent for 17 years, in Independence since 2002, at East Newton in Granby, Mo., and at Greenfield, Mo. He was a teacher and principal in Carthage, Mo., which is where he graduated from high school.

Board members noted that in Independence, Hinson has guided a school district that has undergone demographic changes similar to those facing Shawnee Mission. Hinson also led the annexation of seven schools from Kansas City, Mo., into the Independence district. Independence serves 14,000 students, compared to the 26,000 enrolled in Shawnee Mission.

Hinson said Shawnee Mission’s greatest challenge was school finance difficulty.

“My goal is to listen to individuals, not to come in here and say what we are going to change.” he said.

“I knew it was the right time for a change for all the right reasons,” he said of his decision to leave Independence. He said the district is in good shape financially. Johnson said Hinson had “tackled a lot of issues in Independence and done it with grace.”
More than 200 individuals from 38 states expressed interest in the job. About 50 completed the application process and the board interviewed seven candidates after cutting the list down.

Hinson and his wife, June, who is from Fairway, have three grown children, two of whom live with their families in the metro area.
Among his accomplishments in Independence are establishing and chairing “12 Blocks West” a shared community to promote safe, stable, multi-income neighborhoods; creating “Re-think Independence,” a community forum to discuss the revitalization of neighborhoods; and implementing programs to address employee health concerns, including building an employee Wellness Center and Health Care Clinic.