By Dawn Bormann
Shawnee Mission School Superintendent Jim Hinson has said since his arrival that the district’s leadership structure could be adjusted.
On Monday Hinson announced some of those changes when he introduced a new administrative organizational chart at the school board meeting.
The reorganization likely doesn’t come as a surprise to cabinet members. Hinson has already hired several high-profile people to take on leadership roles in the district. Chief among those changes has been hiring former Belton Superintendent and education consultant Kenny Southwick, who became the district’s second deputy superintendent and has taken on a pivotal role for Hinson. The district also hired Turner Superintendent Michelle Hubbard, who will lead the human resources department starting in July, and Retired Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass, who directs the safety and security department.
The new organizational chart reflects a smaller administrative staff and a shift in hierarchy.
The organization chart shows the district will return to its tradition structure of one deputy superintendent instead of two. Last year the school board announced that the other deputy superintendent, Robert DiPierro, would retire in April. The position would then be eliminated.
The communications position will shift from an associate superintendent role to an executive director position and report directly to the superintendent.
Several departments including security/emergency services, facilities and support services and information technology won’t see major changes, Hinson said.
“What does change is what we do in relation to curriculum instruction and academic achievement,” Hinson told board members.
The chief academic officer will take on a higher-profile role and Hinson announced four assistant superintendent positions: Instructional leadership, curriculum and assessment, instructional support and human resources. All but human resources, which Hubbard was hired to lead starting in July, have been advertised on the district’s website.
The changes will make a hefty difference in the bottom line, he told board members.
“This is an annual savings of approximately $1.5 million to the school district,” Hinson said. “It does reduce our administrative footprint. It puts more resources in the classroom.”
If the state doesn’t make significant cuts to school funding, Hinson said the savings would be used to reduce elementary class sizes.
He added that some of the changes are happening now to correspond with the administrative and teacher retirement incentive buyout. As of Monday, 127 employees had stepped up to sign the irrevocable retirement offer.
“I have the ability to reorganize the district without people losing their job,” Hinson said. “We have a number of people that are serving in administrator level positions but they’re still on a teacher’s contract. But they don’t have student contact so they’re going back to work with students.”