Shawnee Mission surveys show strong support for future bond issues; class sizes raised as concern

Patrons gave the district high marks overall, but listed overcrowding as a concern. Briarwood Elementary has some of the largest class sizes in the area.
Patrons gave the district high marks overall, but listed overcrowding as a concern. Briarwood Elementary has some of the largest class sizes in the area.

Shawnee Mission schools have always enjoyed wide-spread community support, but now that has now been documented in a survey of patrons and staff that also shows likely backing for future bond issues.

The full results of the survey, constructed by an outside firm, gave the district high grades for quality of education. The survey consisted of a 500 person telephone survey, an online survey taken by 564 patrons and another online survey taken by more than 1,000 staff members.

The online survey results can be found here. The telephone results can be found here.

Teachers were listed as the district’s greatest strength across all three groups. When asked what the district could improve, both online groups pointed to class size and overcrowding. People responding by telephone more often said they did not know what could be improved but managing money better was the second highest response.

Ken DeSieghardt of Patron Insight, the company that conducted the surveys, said the answers showed a healthy district. “You are clearly in a good place with folks as they look at the district and look at its performance.”

Shawnee Mission Superintendent Jim Hinson said the survey results gave a “clear message” to the district. In several areas “the community is saying we need to do this,” he said.

The survey asked about directions for signature programs and middle school configuration which revealed some differences between staff and patron responses. Staff was more supportive of offering signature programs at a central site and more supportive of changing middle school to a sixth through eighth grade configuration.

Rebuilding some of the district’s older elementary schools to provide more equality in buildings, improving energy efficiency by replacing older heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, and upgrading safety and security systems all tested extremely well as potential bond issue components. Enthusiasm was more tepid for an aquatics center, upgrading little theaters at the high schools and expanding kitchen facilities at the schools that do not have preparation kitchens.

The district also got some welcome news in the surveys when district residents were asked if they would support a bond issue that resulted in a $90 per year tax increase on a home worth $200,000. Those who would favor or strongly favor such a vote ranged from 69 percent on the telephone responses to 84 percent of online patrons and 86 percent of staff.