Category Archives: PTA

Important Ballot Issue for Shawnee Mission School District – Please Vote!

The kids are heading back to school…and soon residents of the Shawnee Mission School District will have something important in our mailboxes!

Around January 7 all registered voters in the Shawnee Mission School District will receive a ballot in their mailbox. This ballot must be received at the Johnson County Election office (returned in the postage-paid envelope) by noon on January 27, 2015 (so, then, you have to return it before that day). Voters will be deciding two critical questions for the future of our district:

  1. Whether to maintain the current local option budget (LOB) level of 33%.
  2. Whether to support a $223 million bond issue for capital (physical property) improvements to schools in the district.

Significantly, neither of these proposals would trigger a tax increase for district residents. The LOB is locally-raised funding that can be used for operating expenses. In 2014, the Kansas Legislature passed a bill allowing districts to raise the LOB to a maximum of 33%. Districts were allowed to do this by school board vote for the 2014-2015 school year (which SMSD did), but districts are required to hold a mail-in election to gain approval for the increase for the 2015-2016 school year and beyond. The question on the ballot maintains this current level of local funding.

The $223 million bond issue would be allocated among projects at all levels of the school system, including significant improvements related to security, as well as technology and accessibility improvements and maintenance to aging facilities. The district’s breakdown of the allocation of this capital spending is:

These are difficult financial times for all public education institutions in Kansas, with forecasted budget deficits raising the specter of state cuts in 2015 and beyond. To provide high-quality education to all children in the Shawnee Mission School District, we need to ensure adequate operating resources and make smart investments in our infrastructure. This mail-in ballot will succeed if parents and supportive patrons register their priorities for our future. Please watch your mailboxes in January and return your ballots quickly! More information is on the district’s website at

Sign Up for Watch Dog Dads!

Sign-up to spend half day with the kids and keep Dads on the front lines at Prairie Elementary! Just one shift per kid, please. On your day, report to the office at the start of your shift time for instructions.

For the morning shift, you will help with unloading kids and keeping everyone safe in the car drop-off areas. Next, you will participate and help in the classroom. Finally, join your kiddo for lunch and help the little ones with those tough juice box straws.

For the afternoon shift, you will start with lunch. Next, you will help in the classroom. Finally, after school, you will help kids get safely loaded into cars and monitor the parking lot road rage.

Should be a great time! Thanks for participating!

Sign-up Form

If you have any questions, please contact Sam Lind at

School Funding in Jeopardy in Kansas

The Shawnee Mission School District provides valuable learning opportunities to our children, preparing them for future learning and for success in life. We are right to be proud of what our students accomplish and grateful for the chances they have. We should also be vigilant, committed to ensuring that our schools have what they need to meet tomorrow’s challenges, and never content with the gains of yesterday.

School funding in Kansas is precarious, in light of projected state budget shortfalls of more than $238 million by July 2016. States can’t run deficits, so that budget hole will have to be closed somehow. K-12 education looms large in the state budget, so it’s hard to imagine that our schools can emerge unscathed. This raises the risk of cuts upon cuts, since, prior to passage of a new school finance bill this year, Kansas cut education spending more than 45 other states, with funding down more than 16% between 2008 and 2013. Since almost all of our schools’ budgets go towards instruction and student support services, school funding cuts will inevitably harm our children’s educations. Even if the cuts are only temporary, the effects may be lifelong.

Policy is shaped by the policymakers we elect. Our decisions this November 4, then, are critical for our children’s futures. Voting sends a signal that we are committed to using every lever of influence we have to help our children succeed. Carefully selecting policymakers who will prioritize our schools gives us the best team we can assemble to confront the challenges we face. We cannot be content to coast on the strength of our past success. Our children need a world-class 21st Century education, for their tomorrows, which requires our attention today.

Education Policy and this Year’s Elections

Education policy is front and center in this year’s November 4, 2014 elections. News coverage has highlighted critical issues related to school funding, teacher tenure and due process, nutrition standards, and school standards — all of which are now contested in state and federal elections. But while there has been a lot of policy activity around education in recent years, the greatest challenges await us, making this perhaps the most important time in recent history for public school parents and patrons to make our voices heard.

  • The Kansas Legislature approved a new funding bill after the Kansas Supreme Court ordered an increase in school funding, but the Kansas Legislative Research Department projects a $238 million budget shortfall by July 2016. States can’t run budget deficits, so that money will have to come from somewhere, with real risks to future school funding.
  • The Kansas Legislature also approved, as part of that new finance bill, restrictions on teacher tenure. This issue was hotly debated on both sides and promises to shape interactions between administrators and teachers—current and prospective—in the coming years.
  • School districts are crafting new rules on snacks and developing new menus, to respond to new federal guidelines on child obesity prevention. Some members of Congress are calling for modifications to the rules, viewing them as unduly restrictive. Getting this right is critical for our children’s health.
  • The debate over Common Core standards rages, even as schools have aligned instruction to fit with developing evidence about instruction and cognition. The politicization of curriculum at the state and federal levels is a concern to educators. Parents’ perspectives, and our unwavering commitment to their learning and well-being, must be part of the conversation.

Before November 4 research these issues and decide where you fall on them. Then ask policymakers where they stand. Raising the issues will bring education issues center stage. Where they need to be, for our children’s sake.

Prairie 5K Raises $10,000!

The 4th annual Prairie Pride 5k and One Mile Fun Run was a big success! Prairie Village Mayor, Ron Shaffer, attended the event and kicked-off the fun run with the students. We had more than 570 registrants and raised $10,000! This money will furnish a portion of the funds to provide Prairie’s part-time counselor, part-time reading specialist, Spanish teacher and additional educational aid support. Thank you to all the Prairie families and friends who registered for the event.


The race results are posted on Congratulations to the winners and all the finishers! Rikki Hacker came in first place. The first place female winner was Kara Kowalik. Prairie Alumnus, Nathan Perkins Rock, was the first place winner in the 11-15 age group. And the first place female winner in the 11-15 age group was Prairie 6th grader, Maisie Sheets.


The Prairie Pride 5k would not have been possible without the generosity of our sponsors. Thank you for your outstanding support: The Village Dentist, Russell Stover, Gahagan-Eddy, Lewis, Rice & Fingersh Attorneys at Law, Verizon, Palmer Electric Company, Village Church, Taylor-Made Real Estate Services, TCBY, Foo’s Fabulous Frozen Custard, Dunkin Donuts, Liberty Fruit Co, Kelly H. Toombs, DDS, PA, The Horn Doctor, Chick-Fil-A Ward Parkway and Fusion Fitness.


It took the hard work of Meggan Prosser-Gebhardt , Praire Pride 5k Chairperson, and many volunteers to make this run a success. Thank you to all the individuals who spent countless hours organizing, promoting and facilitating the run and the running club, including Regan Barrett , Liz Beedle, Liz Birch, Lisa Bowser, Jessica Brown, Andree DeBauge, Stephanie Drennon, Jennifer Ecklund-Johnson, Constance Eddy, Kristin Fine, Seretha Fisher, Julie Fredrickson, Kerri Gaillard, Kelly Haas, Lindsey Henley, Allison Hughes, Kate Johnson, Alysa Koeneman, Brenda Kotar, Meg Kroening, Megan Lynch, Martha Mann, Angie McDermed, Sarah McKee, Stephanie Meeker, Amy Meirowsky, Laura Moffett, Ginny Norton, Emily Penke, Heather Rubesch, Christy Russell, Christy Sanders, Susan Smith, Carol Solenberger, Paul Stephens, Cole Walburn, Julie Weltmer, Chad Wood, Meredith Woodring, Brittany Zschoche and the Prairie Fund Committee.

Thanks also to the Prairie teachers and staff who supported us at the event, including Kim Bosch, Tim Coleman, Cynthia Connor, Esther DeVault, Candy Dieckmann, Maureen Gallagher, Kodi Lash, Scott Merfen, Dawn Papineau, Anna Phares, Jennie Reck, Pam Ritzman, and Nia Williams.

View and Order Race Pictures!

There was a professional photographer from DeCloud at the Prairie 5K Fun Run. To purchase pics, visit and click “Order,” select “Prairie Elementary – 5K Run.” Enter any valid email address and the password “prairie”. If you have any questions, feel free to call DeCloud Studios at 913.956.7200.

Scrip Gift Cards: Year-Round Gifts and End-of-the-School-Year Teacher Appreciation Gifts

Order for Your Family and Friends!

Scrip gift cards make the perfect gift! Order as many gift cards as you like for family and friends for any gift-giving occasion, such as graduations, anniversaries and summer birthdays. Just fill out the Scrip family order form and turn it in with your payment.

The deadline for Scrip family order forms is Friday, May 9.

Teachers and Staff Loves Gift Cards, Too!

This is also a perfect way to let your child’s teachers and Prairie’s staff know how much you appreciate all they have done this year. So, along with giving to your family and friends, please remember our teachers and staff members.

Complete the teacher and staff appreciation gifts order form with the amount you would like to give and return it with your payment. Teachers and staff will be able to choose which gift cards they would like.

Each staff person will receive a list of the names of the participating families. What an easy way to show appreciation for those that make Prairie such a wonderful school for our children!

So that Prairie staff will have time to choose their gift cards, the deadline for teacher and staff appreciation gifts form is Wednesday, May 7.

Please note that the fifth graders receive a small percentage back on each gift card purchased, which in turn goes towards fundraising for their Wildwood trip.


If you have any questions, please contact Karen Fernandez at 913-244-2969 or