Division Decisions

Division+Decisions

During tough financial times, members of our community in positions of authority are forced to make difficult decisions that are not always popular. Last night, members of the Shawnee Mission School Board met to resolve key issues in our district.

The proposals were hugely controversial regarding the closing of middle schools Mission Valley and Antioch, and the boundary move of Brookwood Elementary School into the South district. While I understand the concerns of parents with students in those schools, I was appalled by the lack of character exhibited by them.

This decision was not taken lightly. A total of 47 speakers talked in the open forum, expressing their position on the propositions. The divide was not only evident by the speeches of the parents, but in the seating, the loudness of the applause and the booing. After all speakers had finished, the Board addressed two other resolutions before getting to the hot button topics; both were delayed until next meeting. The first resolution voted on was the closing of Don Bonjour Elementary. This was passed unanimously. Students from this school will attend Sunflower or Rising Star after the 2010-2011 year concludes.

Next was the boundary change of Brookwood Elementary, which passed five-to-two from the board.  Following that was the issue of closing of Mission Valley Middle. This was passed with a five-to-two vote. Students there will go to Indian Hills next year, making them part of the South district. The closing of Antioch Middle also passed with a six-one vote of the board. The final resolution addressed was the move of Ray Marsh and Broken Arrow Elementary Schools, which was passed unanimously.

After the vote regarding Mission Valley was announced, more than half of the crowd stood from their seats and exited the auditorium. Being only the third decision made, I found this extremely rude. The Board sat through more than an hour and a half of speeches in open forum, and deliberated for quite some time on the closing. This was not a split second decision made at the request of Dr. Johnson. It is a plan that is slated to save our district millions of dollars in a time that we must make cutbacks.

The atrocious behavior of the parents showed total disrespect for, not only the Board, but members of their own Shawnee Mission community. Some parents booed supporters of the move of students to South. One person close to me said it was “like tearing down members of our own family.” We are all one district. Individual school pride is important, but it should never come above the needs of an entire school district.