Right up on there on Ronald Gordon-Ross' bucket list, along with visiting Venice and flying in a jet fighter, is serving on a local school board.
It's been a goal of his since high school, when his mother, he said, served seven years on a school board in Kearney, Mo.
"I think what I gained from my mom is a strong belief in what a school board member is and what a school board member isn't: Evaluate how the superintendent does his job, specifically related to how he manages the budget; sets policies and goals for the district and acts as an (arbiter)," said Gordon-Ross, who goes by "G.R.," joking that it is easier for him to spell.
Address: 971 East 1338 Road
Occupation: Healthcare IT professional
Education: Bachelor's degree, Kansas University
Family: Wife, Kathleen, and five children
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Gordon-Ross, 40, is one of seven people hoping to be elected April 7 to one of the four four-year terms on the Lawrence school board. He came to Lawrence in 1996 to attend Kansas University, where he earned a degree in pharmacy. He now works remotely as a health care IT professional for a Montana clinic.
And since his first began preschool in 2004, Gordon-Ross said, he's been a "perpetual volunteer" at his children's schools — helping out in the classroom, on field trips and at chess club.
"I have to be a parent that's involved in my kids' lives," he said.
The work he put in at Pinckney got him an invitation in 2010 to join an official districtwide group for the first time, a task force to evaluate school efficiency that eventually recommended closing Wakarusa Valley Elementary School.
"It was really interesting to … get a glimpse of when you're in those positions, sometimes where there is no good answer that everybody can agree on," Gordon-Ross said.
Now he said he's ready tackle that school board item on his bucket list. He said he is running on no agenda, but if elected to the board, the chief issue he'd like to address is equity.
"And not racial equity," Gordon-Ross said. "To me it's socioeconomic equity, that's an equity that crosses racial lines."
He said initiatives such as blended learning, which outfits classrooms with an ample amount of mobile devices for increased online instruction, are problematic for disadvantaged students who will find it difficult to complete online homework when they don't have similar technology or an Internet connection at home.
He said making mobile devices available for check-out in school libraries is "a good start," but he doesn't think the district has "addressed it well enough for every student to have a chance to be successful."
Gordon-Ross also said he would be a voice for site councils and parent-teacher organizations. He said he was on course to visit one of those organizations from all but three schools in the district by election day — as many as he could.
As a board member, he said he would continue to regularly visit with those bodies from every building to ensure no facility is left behind on anything. He said a PTO member at Kennedy Elementary who is about the same age as Gordon-Ross told him her child was playing on the same playground equipment she used as a child.
"If I get elected I'll continue to show up at those meetings and … give them a voice," he said.