Decision on possible move of sixth grade to middle school in Shawnee Mission delayed; new task force to continue study

Families enrolling students at Indian Hills and other northeast Johnson County public schools this summer will be paying less for textbook rental.
A potential move of sixth graders to middle school would have significant impact on school boundaries and facilities.

By Kevin Collison

The Shawnee Mission School District has delayed a decision on how it will handle sixth grade education, saying more study is required before undergoing what was called a “monumental task.”

At its first meeting of the new school year Monday, Superintendent Jim Hinson told the school board he is forming a new task force to continue examining the question of whether sixth graders should be educated in middle school or continue in grade school.

“I don’t want to be overdramatic, but change or lack of changing is a significant initiative for us,” Hinson said.

“The goal of the task force is to answer questions and provide information. We want to make sure we’re very deliberative in our process.”

The new task force will be led by Doug Sumner, assistant superintendent for human resources. More details about the mission and goals of the task force are expected to be discussed at the next school board meeting in September.

Hinson again emphasized to the board that whatever route the district decides will likely have a major impact on school boundaries and demand for new facilities.

The district has been exploring the sixth grade issue since December after parents asked why Shawnee Mission was not following the practice of other school districts where sixth graders attend middle school.

At that time, another task force was formed that held a series of community meetings to solicit parent comment.

Among the options considered by that task force were renovating the Broadmoor and Indian Creek buildings to add them as middle schools. Another option called for adding an additional new middle school as well as the two renovated facilities.