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Shawnee Mission School Board Appoints Michael Fulton As New Superintendent

Courtesy of SMSD
Michael Fulton comes to the Shawnee Mission School District from the Pattonville School District near St. Louis, Missouri.

Editor's note: This post was updated at 12:50 on Tuesday to include comments Michael Fulton made to KCUR's Steve Kraske on Up to Date.

In a unanimous vote Monday night, the Shawnee Mission Board of Education appointed Michael Fulton as new superintendent of the Shawnee Mission School District, bringing a long saga of disrupt in the district to a close.

Fulton comes to the district from Pattonville School District near St. Louis, Missouri, where he has worked for 23 years, the past 11 as superintendent.

He was one of three finalists who went through a marathon session of interviews over the weekend, including open forum Q&A sessions driven by questions and concerns from the community.

"We did something that was truly unique and different in Shawnee Mission. What was experienced in this room on Saturday had never been done before," says Board President Brad Stratton.

Stratton says the community's engagement throughout the process was of critical importance to the new board, three members of which just began their terms on January 8.

"I am grateful that we as a community embraced that process. I think it's a signal that we’re moving forward towards that shared request and expectation for transparency and open communication," says new board member Mary Sinclair.

To concerns that Fulton comes from a small district, Stratton promises Fulton has a unique familiarity with the area — he used to serve as president of the Kansas-Missouri Superintendents Leadership Forum.

More than its great reputation, he was drawn to the Shawnee Mission district by its changing demographics, both racial and socioeconomic, and its interest in adapting, Fulton told  KCUR's Steve Kraske Tuesday on Up to Date.

“By 2020, majority of 0-18 year olds in this country will be children of color. That’s a wonderful tapestry of diversity to have,” Fulton said.

“But it’s important that we make sure we design our schools so every single child is going to be successful in their learning. That probably will require different strategies going forward than we’ve used in the past.”

Given the Board of Education’s priority of finding someone who could effectively communicate with teachers and parents, Stratton says they felt Fulton was the clear choice.

"Genuineness. In the end, when we communicated with him, we found him to be genuine and sincere," Stratton says.

Fulton's three-year term will begin July 1 this year, with a base salary of $250,000.

Andrea Tudhope is a reporter for KCUR 89.3. Follow her on Twitter @_tudhope.

Andrea Tudhope is an award-winning multimedia journalist based in Kansas City, Missouri. She is currently coordinating producer for America Amplified, a national public media community engagement initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 
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