Despite differing views on some political issues, Shawnee Mission votes to continue membership in KASB

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Citing the uncertain environment in which Kansas public school districts currently operate, the Shawnee Mission Board of Education on Monday voted to continue the district’s membership with the Kansas Association of School Boards

The unanimous vote came a month after the board had a lengthy discussion about whether the interests of Shawnee Mission and KASB were aligned. Board members wondered at the district’s May meeting whether the nearly $20,000 annual cost of the KASB membership was money well spent given Shawnee Mission’s countering position to the KASB’s on issues like support for the block grant bill.

But on Monday several board members argued that the benefits of membership outweighed the objections.

Cindy Neighbor, a former KASB president, said that with the unstable situation surrounding school funding and the legislature, it was important for Shawnee Mission to be plugged in to the thinking of school districts across the state.

“I think there are a lot of things going on right now in the state and in all districts that it would be nice to have a seat at the table to hear what’s going on, what the effects are on all the districts,” she said. “We’re always going to have differences and challenges, and that’s just because of the makeup of each one of our districts and where we live and our communities.”

She added that the information disseminated by KASB about legislative activities helped justify the price of membership.

“It is a lot of money. But you also pay for quality,” Neighbor said. “And through the years I think we have received a lot of quality.”

Superintendent Jim Hinson told the board he believed that with the flux surrounding public education at the state level, KASB membership had benefits.

“We’re in an interesting process right now at the state. It does allow us to continue to have that seat at the table,” Hinson said. “I think it’s the right thing to do at this point.”

Neighbor joined board members Donna Bysfield, Craig Denny, Deb Zila and Brad Stratton in voting to continue the membership. Board members Sara Goodburn and Patty Mach were absent from Monday’s meeting.