Shawnee Mission school board approves $34,000 raise for interim superintendent

Shawnee Mission Schools Deputy Superintendent Kenny Southwick will earn an extra $34,500 while serving as interim superintendent this year.
Shawnee Mission Schools Deputy Superintendent Kenny Southwick will earn an extra $34,500 while serving as interim superintendent this year.

The Shawnee Mission school board approved a $34,500 raise Monday for the deputy superintendent it tapped to helm the district as school officials prepare to seek new leadership following Superintendent Jim Hinson’s retirement on June 30.

Kenny Southwick, who has worked as deputy superintendent for Shawnee Mission schools since 2014, will receive the extra compensation in addition to the annual $195,500 base salary and $9,000 car travel allowance his current contract provides him.

According to an addendum to his contract, which was renewed this past winter and updated Monday, he will receive a total of $239,000 while serving as interim superintendent and continuing his deputy superintendent duties for the next calendar year.

This spring Hinson abruptly announced his intention to retire after the 2016-17 school year, and school board members approved Southwick’s interim role at an April board meeting. Hinson’s retirement news surprised some in the community as the 55-year-old had also renewed his $254,280 contract through 2020 in December 2016.

During his tenure as superintendent, Hinson also received a $12,000 annual car travel allowance and a $24,000 contribution to a tax-sheltered annuity.

A former teacher and coach who went on to serve as Belton schools superintendent for 12 years, Southwick has been in charge of leading teacher negotiations during his time in Shawnee Mission. Both he and the school board have indicated that he does not expect to launch major initiatives or make drastic changes to current district plans and programs while he is in charge.

“Being an interim superintendent, the majority of Dr. Southwick’s job will be to hold the ship steady, so to speak,” school board President Sara Goodburn said on behalf of the school board in an email to The Star earlier this spring. “He is the bridge to the transition to a new superintendent.

“Until then, Dr. Southwick will guide the district in which initiatives we move ahead with, and which ones we put on the back burner until the new superintendent is selected.”

The school board has previously said that it intends to hire a search firm to assist in finding a new superintendent later this summer, with surveys and forums involving the public to occur in the fall. Candidate lists would be collected starting in November, when school board elections are scheduled to occur.

Interviews are planned for January and February so that a superintendent could be selected by March.

“While the Board of Education is certainly a part of that important conversation, we’re only one voice of many,” Goodburn said in the same email. “What’s really important is learning what the community wants in their next superintendent.”

Katy Bergen: 816-234-4120, @KatyBergen