WRITER: Dylan Lysen

Pulitzer Prizes recognize authors, journalist originally from Kansas

Two authors and a freelance journalist from Kansas were recognized by judges of some of the most prestigious writing awards in the country on Monday. Anne Boyer was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction, while Ben Lerner was shortlisted as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Both Boyer and Lerner are originally from Topeka. Boyer received the award for her book “The Undying: Pain, ...

Douglas County to continue restricting public access to its facilities until May 18

As the state began to lift restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, Douglas County offices were set to remain closed to the public for another two weeks. The county recently announced in a news release that it would continue its restrictions on public access to its facilities until at least May 18. In the meantime, the county will continue to offer its services through remote options, such as ...

Lawrence art teacher gets creative in quarantine by launching educational web series

As schools have turned to online learning during the coronavirus pandemic, teachers have explored creative ways to share educational content with students. One Lawrence teacher has stepped her creativity up a notch during this period by launching a comedic and informative web series. Hannah Hurst, an art teacher for Deerfield Elementary School, recently began posting episodes of her own show called “The Art ...

Maximus employees protest for better working conditions amid coronavirus pandemic

Updated at 3:45 p.m. Friday Employees of Maximus, one of Lawrence’s largest private businesses, are demanding the company to do more to protect them from contracting the coronavirus at work. Some workers from the call center and representatives for the Communication Workers of America union on Friday protested outside the business’ location in the East Hills Business Park, calling for changes to working ...

Lawrence teacher one of 15 in U.S. selected for STEM fellowship

A Lawrence teacher is set to spend the next school year working with the federal government on education issues related to science, technology, engineering and math. Shakiyya Bland, a learning coach for the Lawrence school district, was one of 15 teachers throughout the country selected for the federal Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of ...

Lawrence school board approves budget changes for 2020-21 school year, including 2.4% employee raises

Updated at 2:18 p.m. Wednesday The bulk of the Lawrence school district’s budgeting process for the 2020-2021 school year is completed as the school board on Monday approved several funding changes, including a 2.4% raise for all district employees. But the district won’t finish the entire process until later this summer. It will need to keep an eye on how the state’s revenue is affected by the ...

Lawrence school board approves two hires for 2020-2021 school year

The Lawrence school district has hired a new curriculum leader and elementary principal for the 2020-2021 school year. Superintendent Anthony Lewis on Monday announced Patrick Kelly, who is currently director of the Lawrence College and Career Center, will become the school district’s executive director of curriculum and instruction and Heather Renk, an elementary principal in Atchison, will become the new ...

Property tax deadline looming, but extension for pandemic unlikely

The coronavirus pandemic has delayed much, but it appears it won’t delay the property tax collector. Home and business owners ought to be prepared to meet the quickly approaching May 10 deadline for property tax payments, as state and local officials told the Journal-World they were not considering delaying the deadline date. The decision to keep the deadline unchanged has some local governments that rely ...

Lawrence school district exploring options for 2020 graduation ceremonies

The Lawrence school district is still hoping to hold graduation ceremonies for seniors, despite the coronavirus pandemic that led to the cancellation of most school events. But Julie Boyle, a spokeswoman for the school district, said the district doesn’t yet know when those ceremonies may be. She said the district formed a committee to discuss options but no decisions have been made. “(Superintendent ...

Lawrence school district opens online new student registration for 2020-2021 school year

Despite school buildings being closed because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Lawrence school district is preparing for its classrooms to be full of students next fall. But Julie Boyle, a spokeswoman for the school district, said the district has faced challenges to get the word out that it is currently registering new students for the 2020-2021 school year. Part of the reason is that the school ...

In court filing, Justice Matters attorney says 1994 referendum shouldn't give county 'carte blanche' on financing projects

An attorney for a local activist group is arguing that Douglas County’s use of a 1994 sales tax referendum to expand the county jail without a public vote would give the county the ability to debt-finance projects whenever it wants. William Skepnek, an attorney for Justice Matters, said in a court filing Tuesday that the county's belief in that authority is "frankly fantastical." Skepnek made the argument in ...

Douglas County Commission approves employee health care plan; costs for county, workers will increase by 6.9%

Douglas County will see an increase in costs for its employee health care plan, but the county administrator says it's a better situation than what the county has experienced in the recent past. The Douglas County Commission on Wednesday approved a health care plan with a 6.9% increase in county funding, about $580,000, bringing the county’s total contribution to just under $9 million. County employees' ...

Douglas County Commission to consider new employee health care plan

Douglas County and its employees may soon see a cost increase in the county health care plan. The Douglas County Commission on Wednesday will consider approving a one-year renewal of its employee health care plan with Trustmark that would begin on June 1 and last until May 31, 2021. Of three options presented to the commissioners, county staff recommends the approval of “option 1,” which includes an ...

Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence providing virtual programming, meal service during pandemic

Despite school closures because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence continues to provide after-school programs and regular meals to local youth. Some students appear to be taking advantage of the ongoing virtual programming on a regular basis. Alissa Bauer, a spokeswoman for the club, said a daily average of 50 students from kindergarten to high school attend the club’s virtual ...

Taxing changes for consolidated rural fire district 'a straight wash,' but may rely on cooperation from township leaders

Rural Douglas County residents living within a proposed consolidated fire district could see a slight decrease or no change to their taxes for fire protection if the consolidation is completed later this year. However, that may rely on the leaders of the involved townships keeping their side of the bargain, which includes decreasing the township residents’ property taxes to account for the fire department ...

Court sets deadlines for next responses in Douglas County jail expansion lawsuit

The Douglas County District Court on Wednesday set a deadline for a local activist group to respond to the county government’s motion to dismiss the group's lawsuit that aims to halt the county’s plans to expand its jail. Attorneys for Douglas County and Justice Matters, which has long opposed the jail expansion, met for the first hearing in the case on Wednesday through an online video conference. After ...

Douglas County Commission approves funding for new student meal program

The Douglas County Commission has approved $43,500 in funding for a new meal service for Lawrence students that was launched earlier this week. On Tuesday, the Lawrence school district announced that several restaurants had stepped up to launch the new meal program, which replaced a former program operated by the school district that was halted last week. The meal service — which began Wednesday and is ...

Douglas County Commission to consider beginning second phase of rural fire department consolidation

The Douglas County Commission on Wednesday could begin the second part of a two-phase plan to consolidate several rural fire departments. The commissioners will consider giving initial approval to a resolution outlining the merger of the recently created Fire District No. 6 with the county’s Fire District No. 1, which serves the Lecompton Township, and Fire District No. 4, which serves the northern part of ...

Lawrence school board creates panel to work out teacher contract issues caused by COVID-19 pandemic

As most Kansas education has moved to online, remote learning because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Lawrence school district’s contract with its teachers has produced some conflicts that need to be addressed, said David Cunningham, the district's executive director for human resources. To do that, he said the school district administration and the Lawrence Education Association, the local teachers union, ...

Lawrence school board to consider creation of subcommittee to work out teacher contract issues caused by pandemic

The Lawrence school board may soon create a panel to work out issues in its contract with the local teachers union that have arisen because schools are closed to the public for the coronavirus pandemic. The school board will consider approving a memorandum of understanding with the Lawrence Education Association to form a board subcommittee that will work out those issues and allow for it to make quick changes ...