Langston Hughes Principal Lisa Williams-Thompson has resigned to take a job next year in the Gardner-Edgerton school district.
Thompson will leave the Lawrence district at the end of her current contract on June 30, Lawrence Superintendent Rick Doll said Tuesday morning. She is in her seventh year with the Lawrence district.
She will become the principal at Nike Elementary School in Gardner, said Leann Northway, a spokeswoman for the Gardner-Edgerton district.
“While this decision has been quite difficult, I have decided to make this change to move closer to my family,” Thompson said in a statement. “I appreciate all of the opportunities the Lawrence public schools have provided me during the past seven years. I cannot say enough wonderful things about Lawrence public schools, especially Langston Hughes. I will sincerely miss the family I have created with the Langston Hughes staff and community.”
Thompson, who lives in Olathe, said it was a difficult and “bittersweet” decision. She has a 2-year-old daughter, and the move to the Gardner school will give her a shorter commute.
“It will give me the opportunity to be more involved in her activities as she grows up,” Thompson said.
She came to the Lawrence district after serving as a curriculum specialist with Kansas City, Kan., public schools. Langston Hughes, 1101 George Williams Way, serves 509 students.
“Mrs. Thompson has worked collaboratively with staff and parents during the past seven years to ensure that students are provided an excellent education at Langston Hughes school,” Doll said. “I appreciate Lisa’s leadership and wish her much continued success.”
The district is in the middle of reshuffling its elementary principals after the school board cut $4.6 million for next school year. Those cuts included two elementary principal positions.
Last week, other administrative moves were announced:
• Cris Anderson, principal at East Heights Early Childhood Family Center, will become principal at Kennedy School. East Heights programs will move to Kennedy next year, too.
• Kennedy principal Felton Avery will move to Lawrence High School as an assistant principal, replacing Jan Leonard, who is retiring.
• Wakarusa Valley principal Elias Espinoza resigned.
Espinoza said Tuesday that he has several school leadership options he was considering in the Kansas City area. He said because he had the opportunities for awhile, he wanted to announce his resignation so the district wouldn’t have to lay off a principal due to the cuts.
“I wanted to jump ahead of that,” Espinoza said.
Before Thompson resigned, the district had met the board mandate to cut two elementary positions, and administrators are considering having one principal cover two schools. Doll said Tuesday that district officials are still assessing the situation. Because Langston Hughes is such a large school, he said, it would continue with a full-time principal.
Doll also said he didn’t think the state budget crisis was behind Thompson’s and Espinoza’s decisions to leave the district. He said it is common for Lawrence to need to hire one to two principals a year due to individual situations.
The district probably will have a large pool of candidates for any openings, considering Kansas school districts’ financial problems, Doll said.
“The pool of applicants will be really good because there are very few jobs open,” he said.