The annual Shawnee Mission Education Foundation breakfast is always a huge draw. This morning it was no different, except that the next governor of Kansas was among the sold-out crowd of 1,300 to hear Dr. Jim Hinson’s state of the district address.
Both Gov. Sam Brownback and Rep. Paul Davis were among the 50 elected officials that were scattered among the audience this morning to hear Hinson describe where the district is headed and what it has accomplished in the last year. The speech was peppered with video and on-stage demonstrations that showcased students and programs. At one point, Hinson participated in a robot challenge with
a seventh grade student who is part of a new program that encourages girls to look at science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. That program is funded by a SMEF grant. The district’s STEM program also is moving into the elementary schools to get students interested.
The presentation revolved around strategic themes that the district has carved out, including early childhood education. Students who can’t read at grade level by the third grade are four times less likely to graduate by age 19, the audience was told. When poverty is added to the mix, they become 13 times less likely to graduate than their wealthier peers.
“Early intervention is absolutely the key,” Hinson said, describing the district programs to get students ready for kindergarten. The program also covered the security upgrades that are in progress at all of the district schools and the improvements planned in a proposed $223 million bond issue. In a phone text vote, the audience supported the bond issue by a 251-10 margin.
Hinson talked about community involvement and featured the junior board at Indian Hills fundraising efforts and the City of Mission internship program with SM North as highlights. A lemonade stand video featuring Shawnee Mission students was used to illustrate budgeting and the difference in capital and operational funds.
SMEF, which is 25 years old, has awarded 3.8 million in program grants, teacher grants and scholarships and has a current balance of $2 million.