If you ask Mary Loveland what qualities she would bring to Lawrence's school board, she has a simple response.
"I am, by nature, a problem solver," says the 59-year-old education advocate who is one of eight candidates running in the April 3 election for four spots on Lawrence's school board.
Loveland and her husband, Charles, a Lawrence pediatrician, have four grown children who went through Lawrence's schools.
She has volunteered at the schools and served on committees. She also was elected four times to the school board, serving for 16 years.
But a decision the board made in 2002 to close several Lawrence elementary schools angered many voters. And Loveland and another board member, Scott Morgan, lost their re-election bids in 2003. But both are back on the April 3 ballot.
The 2003 election didn't stop Loveland's volunteer efforts - she has continued doing school committee work since.
And friends urged her to run again.
"I'd like another opportunity to dedicate myself to my community," she said. "In 16 years, I missed three meetings."
Loveland said she doesn't enter the race with an agenda, but with a well-rounded knowledge of education issues accumulated over the years.
She has served on committees that dealt with curriculum improvements, transportation issues and school boundary changes, she said.
Loveland favors implementing all-day kindergarten in Lawrence - if the state decides to pay for it.
"If that happens, I would like to see us start with the Title I schools," she said, referring to schools that have a high percentage of students from low-income families.
She said she voted in favor of all-day kindergarten several years ago, when the district offered it before budget cuts required it to be eliminated.
Loveland has said one way Lawrence can ensure it competes for the best teachers is to continue working to improve salaries and benefits.
"Every year we squeeze the budget as much as we can to identify money available for salaries," she said.
However, sometimes the board has to make the choice of deciding whether to reduce class size by adding more personnel, or add to the salary base of existing teachers, she said.
The board also needs to make sure Lawrence is a good place to teach, through mentoring and professional development programs, she said.
"I think when we do have teachers leave or have teachers retire, it's important to have good exit interviews and try to identify the reasons they left," she said.