The Shawnee Mission School Board announced Friday it has selected three finalists for the district’s open superintendent position.
The finalists include Michael Fulton, the current superintendent of the Pattonville School District in the St. Louis metropolitian area, Blane McCann, the current superintendent of Westside Community Schools in Omaha, Nebraska and Michael Muñoz, the current superintendent of Rochester Public Schools in Rochester, Minnesota.
The incoming superintendent — who board members hope to select by the end of March — will replace former superintendent Jim Hinson, who came to the district in 2013.
Hinson oversaw multiple renovation projects, introduced a one-to-one technology program and revamped curriculum during his four years in the district.
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But Hinson’s authoritative style — and the speed and lack of transparency around many of his decisions — rubbed many community members, teachers and staff the wrong way and fueled a public outcry for a leader committed to improved communication and transparency.
Deputy Superintendent Kenny Southwick is serving as interim superintendent for the 2017-18 school year.
More than 60 candidates applied for position, and the search was conducted by consulting firm Ray and Associates.
The School Board will host “meet and greet” sessions for the public to speak with the candidates this Saturday, when elected officials are also scheduled to interview each of the finalists for a second time in executive session.
During the sessions, candidates will introduce themselves and answer questions from the public. Community members who attend the sessions can leave written feedback for the School Board at the community sessions.
The community sessions will be held in the board room at the Center for Academic Achievement, 8200 W. 71st Street.
Here is some more information about the candidates:
Current role: Pattonville School District, since 2007
Education: Southwest Missouri State (B.S.), Illinois State University (M.S.), Saint Louis University (Ed.D)
Past roles: Middle school teacher, Clayton Schools assessment coordinator, Pattonville director and assistant superintendent
Fulton has worked in the Pattonville School District for 23 years and has served 11 years as superintendent.
In 2016, he was named Missouri Superintendent of the Year. The contest recognized Fulton for putting a “premium on community engagement and communication efforts,” as well as his work on state assessment reform.
Fulton and other education leaders have advocated for using tests to monitor student growth and progress, not just to measure proficiency at the end of the year.
According to 2017 state data, Pattonville is one of the more diverse school districts in Missouri. Forty-six percent of students are white, 32.3 percent are black and 11.8 percent are Hispanic. That’s a change from 20 years ago, when 87 percent of the school district identified as white.
“As diversity grew, so too did the district’s academic performance, leader the St. Louis Post Dispatch to recognize Pattonville as a district that “beat the odds” on state test scores,” a bio released by the Shawnee Mission School District read.
According to St. Louis media, Fulton also supported Pattonville High School students who held a sit-in this past September to bring attention to issues of racism, and later created time during the school day for students to express themselves.
The Pattonville school district serves about 5,659 students.
Fulton’s session is from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Current role: Superintendent of Westside Community Schools in Omaha, Nebraska, since 2012.
Education: Miami University in Oxford, Ohio (B.S), University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (M.Ed), Marquette University (Ph.D)
Past roles: High school and middle school teacher, assistant principal, principal and Executive Director of K-8 Instruction in the Kenosha Unified School District (Wisconsin), Superintendent of the School District of Shorewood in Wisconsin.
Last year, McCann was offered a three-year contract through July 2020 and a $15,000 bonus by the Westside Community School Board and was praised by members for a decision to take a wage freeze the year before, when the district faced $5.4 million in cuts prompted by stagnant property values and reduced state aid, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
Though the district passed a 2015 $79.9 million bond issue during McCann’s tenure, the budget shortfalls have affected teaching positions and programs in the district.
Last January, McCann and other school leaders solicited public input on additional budget cuts for the current school year and said it was looking at other ways to find revenue.
McCann was named Outstanding Educational Leader of 2017 at the Phi Delta Kappa World Café and Awards.
The Westside Community School District serves about 6,000 students.
McCann’s session is from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Current role: Superintendent of Rochester Public Schools in Rochester, Minnesota, since 2011
Education: University of Nebraska (B.S.), Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa (M.S., administrative certificate), Iowa State University (superintendent’s credential and Certificate of Advanced Studies)
Past roles: Secondary school teacher and coach, elementary and secondary school counselor, an elementary and middle school principal, a curriculum direction and an administrative role for Des Moine Public Schools.
This week, the Rochester School Board recently approved a three-year contract extension with Muñoz. In his most recent evaluation, a school board member said Muñoz “utilizes scarce resources effectively and efficiently, and is present and involved in the buildings and community."”
But under his tenure, auditors found that communication with its employees and patrons could be improved, according to the Post-Bulletin, a daily newspaper in Rochester, Minnesota.
A communications audit recently completed by the National School Public Relations Association found that the district had “inconsistent” communication between its buildings, and made recommendations for ways the district could improve the way it communicates with the public.
Rochester Public Schools serves 17,900 students.
Muñoz’s session is from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.