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Dr. Kenny Southwick Named Interim Shawnee Mission School Superintendent

Lisa Rodriguez
KCUR 89.3

The Shawnee Mission School District Board of Education unanimously voted Wednesday night to name Dr. Kenny Southwick as interim superintendent for Shawnee Mission schools.

Jim Hinson, who has headed the district for the past four years, unexpectedly announced his retirement last week. His last day is June 30.

Southwick has served as deputy superintendent in Shawnee Mission since 2014, a year after Hinson joined the district. Before that, he was the superintendent in the Belton School District.

Southwick says he's enjoyed his time with the district and working with Hinson.

"We (myself and Hinson) work very closely hand in hand, work on the strategic plan that's been set by the community and by the board, and we are in sync with what we do and how we move," Southwick said. 

Southwick said he was humbled to lead the district until the board of education decides on a permanent replacement. He said he wouldn't be starting any new initiatives or make any big changes right away.  

His focus right now is getting through the rest of the school year and getingt a good school funding formula out of the Kansas legislature.  

The board also set a timeline for the superintendent search. They plan to officially begin the search in July by hiring a specialized search firm, conducting community engagement surveys over the summer, and ultimately selecting a new superintendent in the spring of 2018. 

At Monday's school board meeting, several members of the public asked the school board to hold off on hiring a new superintendent until after the November elections. Three board positions will be on the ballot.

Board President Sara Goodburn said any new board members would take their seats in January, around the time candidates would be first presented to the board. 

Southwick wouldn't say whether he would throw his hat in the ring for the permanent job.

"I would say this, they're (the board) going to have six or seven months to take a look at my performance and decide, but I'm a old guy," he said. 

Southwick  has a three-year contract with the district as deputy superintendent. Details have yet to be negotiated on a new contract as interim superintendent.

Southwick was one of three administrators, including Hinson, who got a big pay raise last year, which sparked some controversy among teachers.  

Lisa Rodriguez is a reporter and the afternoon newscaster for KCUR 89.3. Connect with her on Twitter @larodrig

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