WRITER: Mackenzie Clark

Lawrence school board to hear update on safety, security

A presentation on active shooter training, building security, mental health and social/emotional supports tops the Lawrence school board’s agenda for its Monday meeting. According to a board agenda item, Ron May, district director of operations, and Jose Cornejo, mental health facilitator, will provide the board an update on safety and security plans, as the “2018-19 school year has been filled with safety ...

'I need people to thrive': Douglas County Commission hears about respite housing initiative

Douglas County Commissioner Patrick Kelly on Wednesday asked why, with all the social services and programs available in the area, the county hasn’t seen one like what Artists Helping the Homeless has to offer. Kar Woo, the nonprofit’s founder, said it was because the county needed an outsider's perspective. "We are so used to the system, we don't look at things differently,” Woo said. “You pick ...

Respite housing proposal would aim to fill service gap for Douglas County men

Douglas County commissioners on Wednesday will hear a proposal on respite housing that would aim to fill a gap in services for men with mental illness or substance use disorders. According to information provided in the commission’s agenda for its 4 p.m. work session, local behavioral health agencies have found an extreme shortage of short- and long-term housing options particularly for single men ages ...

Free State 1st, Lawrence High 3rd overall at East Kansas District forensics tournament

Following a big weekend in the world of forensics, Lawrence and Free State high schools are both sending several students to nationals this June. Free State won the overall championship at the East Kansas District Tournament, held Friday and Saturday. FSHS also took first in the Debate Sweepstakes and the Congressional Sweepstakes, coach Kelly Thompson said via email. Lawrence High took third overall and ...

Healthy Outlook: Take time for self-care

A certain column or article from a certain health writer was missing from the Journal-World last week. For that, I apologize — but I also don’t. Here’s why: Neither you nor I nor anyone else has to be everything for everyone all the time. Sometimes, in order to save your sanity, you just have to take a break. Last week, I spent hours poring over studies (and following ridiculous channels in pursuit of ...

Douglas County Sheriff’s Office pursues program to aid first responders

First responders do and see a lot of things that most people don’t, and it impacts them, Paul Taylor told Douglas County commissioners at their Wednesday meeting. As a result, they need a different kind of help — and Taylor, first responder assistance coordinator for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, thinks he’s found a solution. His position is relatively new — created within the past couple of ...

Agreement would open online database of Douglas County community resources to public

Douglas County commissioners on Wednesday will consider an agreement with United Way of the Plains that would allow residents to access an online database with a range of community resources, including help for food, housing, clothing, health care and more. Currently, any resident can dial 211, similar to 911, to reach a 24-hour United Way of the Plains hotline to get connected to resources. The web platform ...

$3.85M boost in funding from Legislature offset by Lawrence schools’ needs

The school finance bill that the Kansas Legislature passed and Gov. Laura Kelly signed on Saturday would add about $3.85 million to the Lawrence school district’s funding next year. However, Kathy Johnson, the district’s executive director of finance, told the school board Monday evening that while that may sound like a lot, the funds don’t always go that far. Deficit spending and staffing to meet ...

Culture shift in Lawrence schools could change discipline, conflict resolution

Superintendent Anthony Lewis said he was instrumental in bringing restorative practices to Kansas City (Mo.) Public Schools, where he was an assistant superintendent prior to coming to Lawrence in July. In the KCMO district, Lewis said, the superintendent and cabinet went through a two-day training prior to rolling out restorative practices in schools. That’s something he wants to do in Lawrence, too, but ...

Lawrence school board to kick off budget season with update on school finance bill

The Kansas Legislature approved Gov. Laura Kelly’s school finance plan just in time for Kathy Johnson, the Lawrence school district’s executive director of finance, to provide a budget update to the school board on Monday. It’s still uncertain whether the plan, which the House approved 76-47 and Senate approved 31-8 last week, will hold up under the Kansas Supreme Court’s scrutiny, the Associated Press ...

Liberty Memorial Central special education teacher named Secondary Teacher of the Year

Story updated at 4:45 p.m. Friday, April 5: Julitha Rials, a special education teacher at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School, said she was happy to have her students with her when she was named the Lawrence school district’s Secondary Teacher of the Year on Friday. Rials said she worked in “corporate America” for about 15 years, but when the company she worked for moved out of state, she saw the ...

Sunflower music teacher named Lawrence school district’s Elementary Teacher of the Year

Story updated at 5:40 p.m. Thursday, April 4: Sunflower Elementary School music teacher and choir director Peter Gipson said he’s “extremely humbled and grateful” to be named the Lawrence school district’s Elementary Teacher of the Year. Gipson, now in his 14th year with Lawrence schools and 10th year at Sunflower, was honored during an all-school assembly Thursday morning. “He does not work or ...

‘People’s lives transformed’ in drug court, parole officer tells Douglas County Commission

Before she came to Douglas County, Shannon Bruegge, behavioral health parole officer, worked for eight years in Cass County, Mo., supervising clients with substance use disorders as part of a drug court. “I saw people’s lives transformed,” she told Douglas County commissioners during their Wednesday work session on specialty courts. Bruegge was hired with the 2017 launch of the county’s behavioral ...

Douglas County DA supports drug court, encourages more alternatives to incarceration

A key player in the Douglas County criminal justice system on Wednesday told county commissioners that he is “fully in support” of a drug court — “but I don't think that's the place where we ought to be stopping.” Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said he wants to “take a little bit higher view” of the programs the county has already initiated to reduce rates of incarceration, such ...

Douglas County Commission's work session to focus on specialty courts as incarceration alternatives

Douglas County commissioners on Wednesday will attend a work session on specialty courts — such as a drug court — as possible alternatives to incarceration. The county launched a behavioral health court in 2017 as one means of keeping those with mental illness and behavioral health needs out of the Douglas County Jail — with the goals of both better serving those offenders and scaling down the population ...

Peaslee Tech massively expands its course offerings through online partnership

The Dwayne Peaslee Technical Training Center has increased the number of classes it can offer — perhaps exponentially. Peaslee Tech is partnering with Cengage Learning’s Education To Go program to offer students hundreds of online courses. Students enroll through Peaslee, in person or online; then the online programs will be used in a number of ways, depending on the content, said Kevin Kelley, executive ...

4 Lawrence schools are applying for redesign. What does that mean?

Teachers in four Lawrence schools voted recently to apply for the Kansans Can School Redesign Project’s Apollo phase — but if you don’t live and breathe Kansas K-12 education, that statement might leave you scratching your head. Here’s a primer on the statewide initiative — why it’s happening, what it could look like, what it means for Lawrence and when all Kansas schools will be redesigned. Where ...

After 2 Lawrence High students shot at park, school district announces plans to study security

Updated at 12:30 p.m. Monday After two Lawrence High School students were shot Friday at Holcom Park, the Lawrence school district in a districtwide email Sunday shared plans to improve security and said staff would research topics such as clear backpacks and metal detectors. Two brothers who attend LHS, ages 16 and 18, were seriously injured in the shooting on Friday afternoon, according to Lawrence police ...

Healthy Outlook: Workshop to focus on Native American children’s development, plus other health news and notes

Here are a few upcoming health- and wellness-related events in the Lawrence area — plus one that’s a bit beyond city limits — that may be of interest. Healthy Native Children Workshop scheduled Tuesday in Mayetta A workshop for Native American parents of young children aims to “help foster the health and development of Native American children from local tribal communities,” according to a news ...

‘The Ruth is on fire’: Two-time Lawrence and Kansas Youth of the Year shares her story, struggle and hope

When she needed it most, the Boys & Girls Club became a second home for Ruth Gathunguri. It’s been close to a decade now, but the 18-year-old Free State High School senior vividly recalls locking herself in her room, away from the screaming, when her older brother would come home high. “My parents were not having it at all. They would lock him out of the house; he'd be banging on the windows,” ...