SMSD News: Bond 2021 – hiring additional secondary teachers

The Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD) has placed a bond referendum on the ballot in January, 2021. If the referendum passes, it would allow the district to take steps that would allow for additional secondary teachers to be hired.

 Like every aspect of the bond proposed, it is designed to help students achieve their personal best.

 Click here to see a video about the proposal to support student learning by hiring additional teachers.

 How the Plan Works

 Shawnee Mission currently spends money out of its capital outlay fund for new facilities. Under the proposed bond, facilities will be paid for using bond money.

This shift would allow the district to move some custodial and maintenance salaries into the capital outlay fund. This would free up money in the operating fund to hire additional secondary teachers to better support student learning. 

How it Would Support Students       

Currently, Shawnee Mission secondary teachers teach six out of seven periods per school day. By hiring additional teachers at the secondary level, the district would be able to adjust teacher’s schedules so they would teach five out of seven periods a day.

 The additional plan time would allow teachers to accomplish tasks like preparing and designing personalized lessons, collaborating with colleagues, grading and providing feedback, and communicating with students and their family members.

 With more time during the day, teachers will be able to have extra moments to answer academic questions and engage on a more personal level to build stronger relationships with students, according to Linda Sieck, Shawnee Mission East Spanish teacher and NEA Shawnee Mission President.

 This schedule change would be comparable to schedules for teachers in neighboring districts, and would be a way for Shawnee Mission to attract teachers in a competitive hiring field, she added.

 “This bond issue is an indication that the Board of Education and our district administration heard concerns teachers brought forth,” Sieck expressed. “It makes teachers feel valued for the work they do.”

 Shawnee Mission South senior Maria Heath said she recently received help from a teacher who wrote a recommendation letter on her behalf. Heath noted that was extra time a teacher dedicated outside of class time to support her success.

 “I think for teachers to have an extra hour of planning time will allow them to give comments on student work. That helps students succeed and will help prepare them for college and beyond,” Heath noted. “It will make teachers better teachers and produce better students. Our teachers are phenomenal human beings that teach their students curriculum and life lessons and more than anything our teachers care, which is so important to a student.”

 One aspect Westridge Middle School teacher Megan Valenti said she hopes community members will understand is that extra time for teachers to collaborate with peers will be especially valuable.  Collaborative time between teachers is often used to share problem-solving strategies and new ideas and approaches for the classroom.

 “The more you can collaborate, the more educators can support one another,” Valenti shared. “It will be beneficial for everybody and the people it will be most beneficial for are the students.”

 The deadline for voter registration is coming up on Dec. 28. Click here for ballot information.

Click here to view a community discussion about the proposed bond on SMSD Live.

Visit https://www.smsd.org/bond-2021 for more information.