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While they search for a replacement, interim superintendent of the Shawnee Mission School District will receive a raise

Kenny Southwick
Kenny Southwick

Kenny Southwick, the new interim superintendent of the Shawnee Mission School District, will receive an almost 18 percent raise as he takes over management while the school board searches for a permanent replacement.

The board on Monday unanimously approved boosting Southwick’s $195,500 annual salary by $34,500.

Current Superintendent Jim Hinson announced in April that he would retire on June 30.

Southwick, the current deputy superintendent, said he technically will remain in his position but will perform any expanded duties of the superintendent during the interim period. By combining the positions, at least temporarily, Southwick said it would ultimately save the district money.

“In the interest of the time and effort, we’re going to cover what needs to be covered so you’ll have an opportunity to have those dollars available to you to spend how you choose,” Southwick said.

Hinson, who received $254,280 a year, did not attend what would have been his final board meeting. Board member Brad Stratton took time at the end of the meeting to thank Hinson for his service.

“I want to publicly recognize the leadership and the commitment and the influence he’s had on the district for the last three years,” Stratton said.

Hinson’s time as superintendent was not always smooth, however.

Under Hinson, several teachers told The Star, management became top-down, and educators worried about losing their jobs for questioning decisions. Teachers and parents struggled to get explanations for the reasoning behind curriculum and personnel changes. And as the school district weathered its most trying financial times and key administrators received raises, teachers at times felt undervalued.

Hinson’s role in legislative debates over school funding in recent years further disillusioned some members of the school community.

He was one of the only superintendents in the state to back Gov. Sam Brownback’s push to repeal the state’s school funding formula in 2015 and replace it with block grants, a policy that sparked criticism from education advocates and was ruled unconstitutional by the Kansas Supreme Court in March.

The board has proposed beginning a formal search for Hinson’s replacement in August with a final candidate appointed by March or April 2018, a process that would give any new board members elected this fall a chance to weigh in. At least one seat will change hands as board member Donna Bysfield decided against running for a seventh term.

In other business, the board approved a $1.4 million contract to four firms to demolish the existing Brookwood Elementary School at 3411 W. 103rd St. in Leawood, prepare the site for construction of a replacement school and order precast concrete walls for the new school. The school’s students are scheduled to attend classes at Indian Creek Technical Center on 4401 W. 103rd St. in Overland Park until the new Brookwood opens in 2019.

The board also approved a contract with ACI Boland Inc. for architectural and engineering work on a parking garage for the planned District Aquatics Center in downtown Lenexa. The district and city officials plan to jointly pay for the garage, a cost estimated at $5 million.

Southwick also said district officials are closely watching the upcoming vote in the U.S. Senate on its proposed repeal of and replacement for the Affordable Care Act. He estimated that the current version would cost the district around $1 million in reimbursements that flow through the state for mental health services provided to students who qualify for Medicaid coverage, which would be reduced over time in the legislation. Senate leaders have proposed voting on the health care bill as early as this week.

David Twiddy: