Shawnee Mission School District

Shawnee Mission North

It seems Kansas always manages to resurrect an education controversy from its past.

School finance is always a battle, but another old issue that many thought was settled — district consolidation — is back.

The House Education Committee Wednesday will debate a plan that would cut the number of school districts in Kansas in half — from 286 to 132.

Patrick McKay / Flickr -- CC

While the Gannon school funding case now before the Kansas Supreme Court has garnered most of the attention, there's another school finance case out there and that one has gone all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case, known as Petrella, was filed by parents in the Shawnee Mission School District in 2010 against the state. The parents argue the district should be able to raise unlimited local tax money to pay for education. The state right now caps how much money can be spent locally as a way to equalize education for all Kansas kids.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

For decades, cities in Johnson County have quietly used tax increment financing  — or TIF — to lure development.

And for decades, politically, that’s not been questioned.

But TIFs, it turns out, are becoming more contentious in Johnson County, especially in the Shawnee Mission School District. 

"... That dialog has entirely changed recently, in the last year and a half or so, as a result of the preponderance of TIFs,"  says Jim Hinson, the district's superintendent.

Hinson is worried about TIFs for a couple of reasons.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

At an unusual early morning meeting Wednesday, the Shawnee Mission School District board decided to allow a tax increment financing (TIF) project to move forward.

The school board could have vetoed the plan to redevelop the old Meadowbrook County Club at 91st Street and Nall Avenue in Prairie Village. Most of the 133-acre property, about two-thirds, would be turned into a park operated by Johnson County. The rest would be redeveloped into single family homes, a senior living center and a small hotel.

Courtesy photo / Shawnee Mission South

There have been plenty of huge and even historic rock concerts in Kansas City: The Beatles at Municipal Stadium in 1964; the kick off of Michael Jackson’s Victory tour in 1984.

But how about The Who at Shawnee Mission South High School Nov. 17, 1967?

"People cannot believe that The Who was in a Kansas high school," says Vallie Hogan, a 1968 graduate of South. "They just don’t believe it."

The band opened with "Can’t Explain" and ended with "My Generation."

Beth Lipoff / KCUR

After 40 years with the Overland Park Police Department, Chief John Douglass is riding off into the sunset…sort of. He’s not ready for a quiet retirement just yet. Instead, he’s going back to school as the director of safety and for the Shawnee Mission School District next spring. 

On Wednesday's Up to Date, we sit down with Douglass to discuss how policing Overland Park has changed over the years and the new challenges that await him in the coming months.

New Hire Hoped To Change School Notification Flaw

Oct 16, 2013

Shawnee Mission Schools have a new parent and patron notification service for emergencies.

The change grows out of tardy school-alert lockdown messages in September.  There was no harm to anyone as result of the threat.

It took hours for all families to learn an Overland Park School had been locked down for a time.

The District looked for another system and found it with School-Messenger, which claims to serve three thousand big and small school systems around the country including New York City’s.

Shawnee Mission Superintendent Jim Hinson wrapped up his 87 day listening tour last week. Hinson took over the helm of the Shawnee Mission District on July 1.

The listening tour was part of an effort to get to know the area. Hinson met with everyone from parents and students to business owners and higher education officials.

District spokesperson Leigh Anne Neal says people overwhelmingly want to make sure Shawnee Mission Schools retain their strong academic tradition.

Shawnee Mission School District and Kansas City Public Schools

Budgets, common core, accreditation and aspirations for the year will be some of the topics of our conversation.  Superintendents Jim Hinson from the Shawnee Mission School District and Stephen Green from Kansas City Public Schools  join in a discussion of the pressing issues facing our schools and taking questions and comments from the community.

A suburban Kansas City elementary school will remain closed until Monday due to an as-yet-undetermined gastro-intestinal illness.