Shawnee Mission School Superintendent Jim Hinson used the State of the District address Thursday morning to highlight the accomplishments of the Shawnee Mission schools over the last year, but also to look to the challenges the district faces in the future.
Hinson said the district is in the middle of a lifestyle change. “Is what we are doing in public education relevant,” Hinson asked. Today’s kindergarteners are the Class of 2028, he noted. School improvement is not moving as fast as the world is changing, he said. “We need a growth mindset. (We) must be able to see things differently than in the past.”
“We refuse to be defined by circumstance. We refuse to offer an excuse for what we can’t do. All means all.” Those were among the principles Hinson laid out for the district.
The presentation to a full house at the annual Shawnee Mission Educational Foundation breakfast was punctuated by showcasing exceptional student work including biotechnology research from SM West and Briarwood students using advanced technology.
Hinson also laid out changes in the district over the last year:
- The largest increase in enrollment since 1992.
- The security upgrades to every school, including a secure entrance at SM North.
- 1,300 middle school students taking part in athletics last year.
- The rollout of the bullying app for students to report incidents.
- The passage of the $223 million bond issue for new schools.
- The start of construction for the Center for Academic Achievement.
- Expansion of the engineering program to elementary schools.
- Wholesale changes in the district leadership team.
- The rollout of 30,000 personal technology devices to district students.
- The elimination of fees for all-day kindergarten.
- The elimination of elementary textbook rental fees.
Hinson said the new administrative center will bring 500,000 square feet of administrative space at multiple buildings into 70,000 square feet for administration at a savings of $2 million per year. After years of school closings the district is looking to add a new school. Hinson said development projects within the district boundaries could bring 7,000 new “doorways” to the district.
He also recognized SMEF executive director Linda Roser who will be retiring at the end of this year. Roser gave several examples of how SMEF money and the Shawnee Mission Cares campaign had made a difference to district families in times of crisis. “We are the Shawnee Mission family taking care of our family,” she said.