Age: 27 Address: 765 Ash Street Family: husband, Jake Lowen; daughter, Nadia, 6, is in kindergarten at Woodlawn School Occupation: graduate student in social work at Kansas University
One of the main reasons Vanessa Sanburn, her husband, Jake Lowen, and 6 year old daughter, Nadia, chose to move to Lawrence this summer from Wichita was the Lawrence public school system.
“The most compelling reason we had for moving up here to Lawrence was the caliber of ... public schools that they had,” Sanburn said. “The schools there weren’t good enough for us.”
Upon the family’s arrival to Lawrence, Nadia began kindergarten at Woodlawn School and Sanburn enrolled in the social work program at Kansas University part time to get her master’s degree.
“I’m really enjoying that program and she’s (Nadia) really enjoying her program,” Sanburn said.
Even though she is new to town, sitting on a school board is something she knew she wanted to do.
“It has always been a goal of mine,” Sanburn said.
And Nadia thinks her mom would be a great school board member.
“She’s very smart,” she said. “And pretty.”
Plus, Sanburn said once she has set a goal, she gets 100 percent involved.
“I’m extremely committed,” she said. “When I set my sights on something, I want to learn the ins and outs of all situations before I make a decision.”
Sanburn knows that budget woes are upon the school district, but she was optimistic that federal dollars would help ease the pain before the state said they would hold funding flat for the next two school years.
“I’m hopeful that we aren’t going to have to cut programs like they were anticipating,” Sanburn said.
But she wants to ensure the education for her daughter and all students is protected first and foremost.
“I want to make sure that if cuts are necessary, we don’t make cuts that affect academic achievement of any students.”
Sanburn also want to hear from parents, teachers and others involved in the education process
“(I want to) get great input from the public and great input from the teachers and the stakeholders and the people that know what programs their students need or what programs their children need in order to make the best possible decisions.”
Sanburn feels confident the district can use the money from the federal stimulus plan dollars to keep the schools at the level they are now.
“I’m hopeful that we can use that money wisely, as well as figure out other ways of making good decisions to where we don’t have a huge economic crisis with the funding of our schools,” she said.
Sanburn spent two years as a health educator for Planned Parenthood in Wichita and sexual education is something she wants to broach with the board and the district as soon as possible.
“Currently, there is not a real clear guideline in the district for how to approach human sexuality and reproductive education,” Sanburn said. “That’s one issue that I’m interested in working on right away on getting good, clear guidelines on how educators need to approach that subject.”
During her time as a health educator, Sanburn said she was made aware of the “crisis that we currently have with sexuality education.”
Plus, her former job and current studies can help bring insight to the discussion of the topic.
“I feel like I have a whole lot to bring to the table,” Sanburn said. “That’s something I’m also doing a lot of research on.”
As a school board member, she is ready to have her ears open to parents and Lawrence residents.
“I’m very interested in knowing what solutions people have and what problems people are having that we need to work on,” Sanburn said. “I want to hear from the public.”