Topeka — Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday appointed two school superintendents — one suburban and one rural — to serve on the new K-12 Student Performance and Efficiency Commission, which Kansas lawmakers established as part of this year's school finance bill.
Brownback named Shawnee Mission superintendent Jim Hinson and Concordia superintendent Bev Mortimer of Concordia to serve on the panel, which is charged with studying various measures of student performance and making recommendations to the Legislature about the efficient use of tax dollars.
Hinson leads the state's third largest school district, with enrollment last year of more than 27,000 students. He has worked in education for 30 years, including 17 years as a superintendent. Before coming toJohnson County, he had been superintendent of the Independence, Mo., school district for 11 years.
He has a doctorate in educational administration from St. Louis University, a master’s degree in elementary administration from Southwest Missouri State University — now Missouri State University — and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Missouri Southern State College.
At Concordia, in north-central Kansas, Mortimer leads a district of just 1,072 students. Earlier this month, the Kansas State Board of Eduction approved Concordia as one of the first two districts to be designated an "innovative school district," allowing it to be exempt from most state laws and regulations so that it can launch special programs intended to boost student achievement.
Mortimer earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Kansas University and a master’s in educational administration from Kansas State University. She currently serves on the board of directors of the Kansas/Missouri Superintendents Forum and is a member of the National Superintendents Roundtable.
“Both Jim and Bev bring the valuable perspective of educators to the work of this commission,” Brownback said in a statement announcing the appointments. “Their experience in the classroom, combined with leadership and administrative knowledge make them excellent additions to a commission tasked with the important role of establishing guidelines to measure student success.”
Kansas lawmakers established the commission this year as one of several policy initiatives that were attached to a school finance bill aimed at addressing a recent Kansas Supreme Court ruling. The panel is to include nine voting members appointed by legislative leaders and the governor. The commissioner of education, the director of the budget, the revisor of statutes, the legislative post auditor and the director of legislative research all serve as nonvoting, ex officio members.
The law allows Brownback to make three appointments to the panel, but the governor's office has not yet announced its third appointment.
Among its tasks is to study ways school districts can operate more cost effectively. The commission is supposed to report its recommendations to the Legislature in January 2015.
Last week, House Speaker Ray Merrick named his two appointments — Kansas Policy Institute president Dave Trabert and Kansas Chamber director Mike O'Neal, a former House speaker — both conservatives who have been highly critical of the current school funding mechanism.