SMSD to open new therapeutic learning center for students this summer

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- A Shawnee Mission School will soon become a center for families with troubled kids.

The Shawnee Mission School District plans to open a therapeutic day school in the Former Arrowhead Elementary School at 66th and Santa Fe Drive this summer.

Several school districts across the metro run therapeutic day schools, but this will be the first one in the Shawnee Mission School District

"I want to say first of all, we believe all means all," Deputy Superintendent Kenny Southwick said. "So we are going to provide high-quality programs in the Shawnee Mission School District for our brightest students, and we are going to provide the highest quality for the lowest kids who have challenges as well, and everyone in between."

Currently, many students with severe emotional or mental health issues are placed outside of the school district for help. The deputy superintendent says this can be both expensive and make it difficult for parents to be involved.

"As we work with students, we are primarily going to focus obviously on the educational needs that they have, the social and emotional needs that they have," Southwick said. "We want to wrap around therapy not only around those students, but also around their families in the community that they live in."

The proposal will transform this building to accommodate between 60 to 70 students.

"The day they come in we are writing an exit plan," Southwick said. "It's not a terminal placement. So we sit down and say here's where we are here's where we want to be and we're going to start to work and get those kids ready so they can be back into the mainstream school."

Plans started in 2014 to focus not just on educational needs, but also social and emotional.

Administrators say they will help students at all grade levels, but their goal is to get the kids ready to be back into the mainstream school.

Currently there are about 300 students at Arrowhead Elementary School. They will all be moved to the new Crestview Elementary school off Shawnee Mission Parkway.