“We will deliver on our promises,” Hinson tells SMEF crowd

The annual SMEF breakfast at the Overland Park Convention Center had 1,170 people registered, filling the space for Dr. Jim Hinson's speech.
The annual SMEF breakfast at the Overland Park Convention Center had 1,170 people registered, filling the space for Dr. Jim Hinson’s speech.

Shawnee Mission Superintendent Jim Hinson marked day 87 of his 87-day listening tour Wednesday by sharing some of what he has heard, asking for even more input, and making a promise to the community.

It was the first appearance for Dr. Hinson at an annual Shawnee Mission Education Foundation (SMEF) breakfast where it is tradition for the superintendent to deliver an address on the state of the district. Since he started the job in July, Hinson has used the 87 days to meet with groups and individuals across the district.

“We have a great tradition, but the world is changing,” Hinson said. “What has gotten us to this point might not get us to the next level where we want to be. Can we dream larger than we have ever dreamed?” His promise: To collectively provide the dream school district in every facet of the district operation.

A few outcomes of the listening tour and surveys that Hinson shared with the overflow crowd: District strengths included strong teaching staff, traditions of excellence, programs and curriculum and community and parental involvement. Challenges for the district included financial constraints, facilities and infrastructure and technology.

Hinson asked the audience to weigh in with their cell phones on the most important characteristic to prepare students for the future and among four choices critical thinking ranked highest, followed by college and career readiness.. In another instant poll of the crowd, reducing class size was the top vote getter for important initiatives.

Facilities and infrastructure must be part of the strategic plan as the district moves forward from the listening tour into the planning stage, Hinson said. Exploring the consolidation of district level operations into a single building was a topic raised at this week’s school board meeting.

You made it clear you want to be great at everything we do in the district, Hinson said. “We will deliver on our promises.”