Lawrence school board reviews 11 ‘must-see’ applications for superintendent position

Lawrence Public Schools district offices, 110 McDonald Drive.

The Lawrence school board started considering candidates for the district’s superintendent position Monday by reviewing 11 applications behind closed doors.

At a special meeting, Ryan Ray, president of search firm Ray & Associates, said the 11 applicants he would present in executive session were the top “must-see” candidates from the 60 people who applied for the position. All 11 of the candidates were informed their names would be shared with the board, and all said they were still interested in the position, Ray said.

In all, the search firm contacted 934 people from 48 states about the job, Ray said.

The school board’s task Monday during the 2 1/2-hour executive session was to choose five to seven candidates to invite to Lawrence for interviews. The visits will take place the week of Jan. 15, a week after Kelly Jones and Ronald “G.R.” Gordon-Ross will replace Marcel Harmon and Vanessa Sanburn on the board.

David Cunningham, the district’s executive director of human resources and chief legal counsel, said the names of the candidates selected Monday for the first round of interviews would not be made public. However, the names of the three finalists chosen after those interviews would be shared with the public before they return the week of Jan. 22 for a second round of interviews. There would also be an opportunity for the public to meet and interact with the finalists during that week, he said.

“What that (event) will look like hasn’t been determined,” he said. “That will be up to the next board to decide.”

It is the board’s stated goal to announce the next superintendent in February. The new superintendent will start his or her duties July 1, 2018.

In the only other item on the special meeting’s agenda, the school board approved a list of 19 requests for state legislators for the 2018 session that starts in January. Topping the board’s list of priorities was opposition to any move to amend language in the state constitution that requires the state to adequately support K-12 education. In October, the Kansas Supreme Court overturned a funding formula the Legislature passed earlier in the year because it did not provide adequate or equitable funding for public schools as the state constitution requires.

The list of positions calls for a balance of sales, income and property taxes to support the “full and fair” funding of public schools. At Sanburn’s suggestion, the board included a position requesting that additional funding for schools should not come from cuts to social services.

School board president Shannon Kimball will present the list to local legislators on Jan. 5 at a Lawrence chamber of commerce event.