After a four-year hiatus, Mary Loveland is ready to return to the Lawrence school board.
A 20-year veteran who served from 1987 to 2003 and again from 2007 to 2011, Loveland chose not to run after her last term because of the declining health of her late husband, Chuck, a Lawrence pediatrician.
She said there's no particular issue that bounced her into action again this year, other than the ever-present concern over kids receiving the education they need.
Mary Loveland bio:
Address: 747 N. 1500 Road
Education: Bachelor's degree, Kansas University
Family: Husband, Chuck, who died in 2014, and four children.
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"In 10 years, the person who's repairing your car that's carrying my family, or the person that's treating the illness of one of my family members, or the accountants figuring my taxes, might be in school right now," she said. "I think it's important they're pretty well educated. That's what it's all about.
"I have no negative reason to run."
Loveland, 66, is from Merriam. She graduated from Kansas University in 1970 with a degree in English. After settling in Lawrence permanently in 1976, Loveland put four kids through Lawrence public schools.
She's spent most of her time as a homemaker, but has stayed busy in the community all the while. Loveland has worked as an organizer for youth sports leagues and served on boards for the Kansas Memorial Union and KU Alumni Association, in addition to being active with her church.
She first ran for the school board in 1983. And after winning four years later, she witnessed several big news events as her tenure unfolded.
She was part of the board that oversaw the creation of Free State High School in the 1990s. And in 1997, when Free State opened, she was at the center of a controversy when her family purchased a second home in Lawrence for their daughter to live in so she could attend the new school.
The choice came after the family was led to believe they already lived in the proper attendance zone, Loveland said, and their daughter experienced two acts of vandalism at Lawrence High School relating to Loveland's position as a board member.
Loveland has also supported closing elementary schools in the past. That got her and other members booted from the board in 2003.
"The issue is that I was willing to consolidate schools," she said. "To me it made it possible to offer the kind of education programs our patrons expect."
But voters put whatever frustration they had behind them in 2007, when Loveland won four more years on the board. With a soon-to-be retired superintendent leading the district at the time, Loveland said it was her past experience filling in that top position that got her a seat again.
Now, after another four years away, Loveland is contesting with three other candidates for a two-year term on the board. She's competed against two of them before. Marcel Harmon, an applied anthropologist; Kelly Spurgeon, an analyst for the state's education department; and Loveland were among a dozen-plus applicants to fill a vacated board seat in August. The board unanimously selected Harmon, who officially joined in September.
Her experience would be an asset on the board, she said, adding that she can provide a "fair amount" of knowledge on the district's history.
"I really do think the board is improved when there is a representative from all generations," she said. "A whole lot of people that don't have kids in the school district are asked to pay taxes to support schools. And I think it's valuable to have a range of life experiences."