New Superintendent Dr. Jim Hinson has been in office for approximately 100 school days. His first priority when he took office was to listen and gather ideas for improvement at town meetings to determine necessary changes to improve the district. He has identified five areas of focus for future planning: academics, technology, safety, security and facilities.
“Two hundred and eleven degrees water is simply hot water at a simmer but with an extra degree at 212 it boils,” Hinson said in an email interview. “Our children deserve great schools in which everyone and every program is going the extra degree.”
A change Hinson has already made is the implementation of new computerized communication system that will allow for a large volume of calls to go out in a short period of time in case of emergency.
Another action Hinson has taken is requesting the board of education to approve the hiring of a demographer to give a report including demographic profiles of the district, student enrollment projections and a review of geographic boundaries.
Over the past few months, Hinson has expressed his commitment to designing great schools. According to Hinson, the most challenging part of the job is trying to talk with students, staff and community at every building. He hopes to listen to everyone’s views through talks and surveys while adding his expertise to make the most informed decisions about where change needs to occur.
“It is important for me to hear from our stake holders and to truly learn about and understand the district,” Hinson said. “This will allow us to create plans that will maintain and build on the great things that we have in place and to make any possible adjustments to ensure we are operating at the 212 degree mark.”
President of the NEA for the Shawnee Mission school district, Nancy Fritz, finds Hinson’s listening to be very beneficial to the district. The NEA is a teachers union dedicated to promoting quality public schools, strengthening the profession of teaching and improving the wellbeing of members.
“I think the fact that he has held so many town hall meetings [has been positive] and was willing to listen to so many people about their concerns, and I think that he genuinely listens and is trying to make some decisions about what can be done to improve some areas,” Fritz said.
Along with the NEA, Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) president and East parent Lori Bledsoe feels Hinson has been taking the time to listen to not only the school board, but parents and administrators as well.
When comparing Hinson to the former administration under Johnson, Bledsoe feels Hinson has been doing things right by making these changes and seeking input from the community and reaching out to parents for input. She feels the previous administration did not actively seek out this valuable input as much.
Hinson takes surveys during his presentations to allow everyone to voice their opinion, something the former administration did not do. He hears everyone by having the audience do text surveys responding to things like district goals and concerns. Bledsoe finds these interactive presentations very beneficial.
Hinson has also shown up and engaged in various East events put on by the PTA, another thing Bledsoe finds positive. He came to East College Clinic, renovation sensation and a PTA meeting at the start of the school year.
“I like the fact that he is engaged and walking around,” Bledsoe said. “He spoke at the very first PTA meeting this year and we had a record turnout.”
Fritz also views the new leadership positively and thinks the majority of community members feel the same way.
“I believe the majority of people spoke out and thought that we needed a change as far as just different leadership, somebody from the outside that could maybe take a more objective look at how things are being run and what improvements might be needed in the district,” Fritz said.