There is no more important job in Lawrence than serving on the Lawrence school board.
Lawrence residents like to think of this as a community that values and supports education. We’re the home of the state’s largest university, for Pete’s sake. We have a highly educated population. Students educated in Lawrence public schools have gone on to prominent positions of leadership in the nation and world. We’re all about education.
Until, apparently, it comes to being willing to step up and take on one of the community’s most important volunteer jobs: serving on the school board that makes the key decisions that guide the future of our public schools.
Although the filing deadline is less than a week away, only two people have filed for election to one of four school board seats that will be filled this year. One is Marlene Merrill, who is serving her first term on the board; the other is Shannon Kimball, a member of the task force currently studying elementary school facilities. Three incumbent board members have indicated they don’t plan to seek re-election.
That’s fair. All three have served multiple terms on the board. It’s time for some other people to take a turn.
Three seats on the Lawrence City Commission also will be filled in the April 5 election. Four candidates have filed in that race, which is enough to fill the seats, but there’s plenty of room for additional candidates in both the city and school races.
Unfortunately, while serving on the school board is one of the community’s most important jobs, it’s also one of the most thankless. Board members receive no pay, but they are the targets of plenty of abuse when they have to make tough decisions. Given the prospects for additional cuts in state funding for public schools, there are likely to be many tough decisions ahead.
That’s why the community should make every effort to have smart, well-motivated people on the board that will make the decisions. Current and former board members noted in a recent Journal-World story that serving on the board is a rewarding experience, a way to make a concrete contribution to the future of Lawrence and its residents.
They are absolutely right. We hope some great candidates will surface before the filing deadline at noon Tuesday along with a cast of volunteers that will support them not only during their election campaigns but after some of them are elected to office next April.