Updated: Aug 20, 2021
Zooming in to keep the work of the recently established Finance and Facilities Committee moving forward.
The responsibility for maximizing district resources begins with district leadership. Day-to-day management stems from the superintendent’s office, in collaboration with governance and oversight provided by volunteer members of the school board.
In my first month as a newly elected January 2018, the board hired a superintendent whose landmark impact was to actively engage the Shawnee Mission community in shaping the district’s roadmap for the next five to ten years. Since the Strategic Plan was adopted, critical steps have been taken to strengthen the alignment of district priorities, resources and efforts. Development and implementation of the Strategic Plan has rolled out under the guidance of the incoming superintendent whose close involvement only serves to facilitate a smooth transition in district leadership. Highlights of district progress noted here are all referenced on the district website, reflecting a commitment to transparency and ongoing communication:
STRATEGY 1 TEACHING & LEARNING Highlights. Growing relevant Real World Learning experiences through the district’s Signature Programs, Career Tech Education (CTE) and dual college credit opportunities, formalizing personalized learning plans and identifying priority standards at each grade level and content area to facilitate equity and excellence, pivoting time and again to provide continual access to learning during a global pandemic, and seeking community input on common questions like digital learning.
STRATEGY 2 CULTURE Highlights. Implementing ongoing Deep Equity training, establishing the SMSD Recruit team, restructuring discipline coding practices and reinstating an administrative handbook, updating Board Policies AC on prohibition of discrimination and equal employment opportunity and ACA on school mascots, re-establishing longitudinal survey on climate and Social Emotional Learning (SEL), and designating staff to support systemic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) practices.
STRATEGY 3 PEOPLE Highlights. With the phased-in restoration of state funding for public schools, SMSD has prioritized restoring the 5 of 7 secondary teacher course-load beginning Fall 2021, offering more competitive compensation for teachers, paraprofessionals and other non-licensed staff, has begun restoring administrative instructional support and social worker positions, along with continued efforts to improve use of the staff Fitness Center and Priority One Health Center, and adopting the Interest-Based Bargaining approach to negotiations. An additional 54 positions are being added for the next three years through the use of federal relief funds to address the impact of the global pandemic.
STRATEGY 4 SYSTEMS Highlights. Building a program evaluation system aligned with the strategic plan, establishing a Response to Intervention (RTI) coordinator to increase support to staff teams addressing the needs of at-risk students, and strengthening systems of communications, including:
upgraded district website, adoption of Canvas, Lightspeed, and Class Link to improve teaching and learning, addition of ThoughtExchange to better capture open-ended feedback from community members, posting Board Recaps following each meeting, elevating use of firstname.lastname@example.org, livestreaming the work of the district, doubling board meetings per month, establishing committees like Finance and Facilities, District and Building Site Councils, and superintendent advisory groups.
STRATEGY 5 FACILITIES Highlights. Passing the 2021 bond including LEED certification for the five new elementary buildings, and adopting fiscally responsible guardrails under Policy DBB and retaining the district’s AAA Bond rating.
The Shawnee Mission community of patrons, families and staff is one of our greatest resources, whose involvement can only enhance opportunities for all our students to excel. I seek an opportunity to continue to serve on your behalf.