School board veteran Mary Loveland among candidates for vacant seat

Mary Loveland.

As of Tuesday, seven applications had been filed for the Lawrence school board seat left open by Kristie Adair after her resignation earlier this month. Among them is at least one familiar face: school board veteran Mary Loveland, who served on the board from 1987 to 2003 and again from 2007 to 2011.

Loveland, 68, hopes to return to the school board after an unsuccessful run at a two-year term in 2015. Loveland says she’s “not motivated by anything other than a commitment to making sure our community provides high-quality public schools.”

Originally from Merriam, Loveland graduated from the University of Kansas in 1970 with a degree in English. After settling in Lawrence permanently in 1976, she and her husband, the late Chuck Loveland, enrolled all four of their children in Lawrence public schools. Outside her family life, Loveland has worked as an organizer for youth sports leagues and has served on boards for the Kansas Memorial Union and KU Alumni Association.

Mary Loveland.

As a school board member, she helped oversee the creation of Free State High School in 1997. Loveland has also supported the closings of elementary schools in the past, a stance that got her and other members voted off the board in 2003. In 2007, however, she won enough votes to secure another four-year term on the school board — a win she credited at the time to her lengthy service record.

Now, amid deep concerns “about the future of our schools” at both the federal and state levels, Loveland’s hoping to bring that experience to the Lawrence school board. She maintains “it’s in every citizen’s vested interest that our schools are quality schools,” but also says she’d return to the board with a focus on bullying and equity issues.

In the wake of last fall’s racism investigation at South Middle School and overarching concerns about systemic racism in schools, Loveland says she’s “very interested” in the concept of providing safe, inclusive learning environments for students of all backgrounds.

“Right now, it’s being discussed a lot at a variety of levels in our community, so it’s very important that we have good dialogues about this and put our brains together to try to decide on strategies that would impact the situation in a positive way,” Loveland says.

The deadline to submit an application is 5 p.m. March 6. School board members will review applications at their March 13 meeting and then appoint one applicant to serve the remainder of Adair’s term, which ends on Jan. 8, 2018.