As district leaders talked publicly about financial strains, Shawnee Mission board approved substantial raises for administrators

Superintendent Jim Hinson received a raise of approximately 9.5 percent last summer.
Superintendent Jim Hinson received a raise of approximately 9.5 percent last summer.

As administrators last summer were saying there wasn’t enough money to give all teachers a raise and were issuing warnings about the district’s financial prospects amid the battles over school funding in Topeka, the Shawnee Mission School Board approved significant salary increases for the district’s top leaders.

These included:

The pay packages for all cabinet-level positions in the district also include a monthly car stipend of at least $500.

The new contracts with the raises approved in June 2015 — and contract extensions that came in December — were all passed as part of the board’s consent agendas, and were never discussed in public. The contracts were not made available as part of the documents that accompanied the June 2015 and December 2015 board meetings’ agendas, and were only released by the district after a Kansas Open Records Act request.

Teachers advocates raised concerns about the issue earlier this year when Brian Koon, the lobbyist for Kansas Families for Education and husband of a Shawnee Mission teacher, spoke during open forum at the March 28 board meeting.

“At the same time that teachers in the Shawnee Mission district haven’t had a meaningful raise in eight years, while we have families in this district who will only be able to pay their student fees by cutting to the bone somewhere else in their household budget, Superintendent Hinson, you and top administrators have gotten pay raises to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars,” Koon said.

Video of that meeting is embedded below. Koon’s comments begin at 42:30:

Board Chair Sara Goodburn said the summer raises followed the district’s typical pattern, when administrator salary reviews are addressed after the district has finalized a contract with teachers for the coming school year. She noted that the lack of public discussion about administrator pay was not without precedent for the board, which handles a majority of its business on consent agendas.

“Typically, we do not address raises until after we have settled with the teachers,” she said. “As you know, we handle quite a lot of board business via the consent agenda. Documents are always available to the public to view if they wish to do so.”

Goodburn noted that it was part of Hinson’s responsibilities to make recommendations about pay for administrators and that the board takes salary comparisons of administrators in other districts into account when it considers pay increases.

The district’s preliminary 2016-17 budget released last month showed a need to dip into just under $2 million in reserves to make ends meet. The budget shows $214.6 million in expenditures against $216.5 million in revenues. With more than 27,000 students, Shawnee Mission is the third largest district in the state.

The district has not finalized a teachers contract with the district chapter of the Kansas National Education Association for the 2016-17 school year. Negotiators from the union and the district are set to meet this week. The board has yet to approve any changes to administrator contracts this summer.

The current contracts for Hinson, Southwick, Hubbard and Director of Security John Douglass are embedded below. These contracts, approved in December, are extensions of the contracts that included the raises from June 2015: