Despite another string of absences, school board member says she is committed to serving

Lawrence School Board Member Kris Adair calls into the board's meeting by video, Nov. 28, 2016. A tablet hosting Adair's call was placed between school board members Shannon Kimball, left, and Jessica Beeson, right.

Despite not being present for half of the Lawrence school board’s last 10 meetings, board member Kristie Adair said she plans to finish out the remaining year of her term.

Since September, Adair has been absent for four of the board’s semimonthly meetings, and she video-called in to a fifth in November. Adair missed the board’s most recent meeting on Monday, but said she doesn’t plan to miss any more.

“Unfortunately with my business, I have had to be called away several times, but I am still very committed to my board seat and still very much would like to attend the meetings,” Adair said.

Adair said most of the recent absences were because she was traveling for business meetings, but that a couple were due to an illness in the family. Adair and her husband, Josh Montgomery, own a tech startup business, and he has recently been working full time in San Francisco. She said she has had to travel for business meetings in San Francisco and Kansas City.

Though relocating is possible, Adair is still living in Lawrence, and said she doesn’t have plans to move at the moment. She also said she doesn’t plan to resign from the seven-member school board. School board members are elected but are not paid.

“I’m very much looking forward to finishing up my term,” Adair said. “Right now that looks like a very real possibility. There are no concrete plans for us to leave Kansas at the moment.”

Last year, Adair had a string of absences lasting about a month toward the end of the selection process for the school district’s new superintendent, Kyle Hayden. In addition to board meetings, Adair didn’t participate in interviewing and selecting semifinalists and finalists for the position. Adair said at the time that those absences were also related to her business, which had been accepted into a 90-day business accelerator program.

At the time, Vanessa Sanburn, who was then president of the school board, suggested that Adair should resign if she wasn’t going to attend meetings.

Adair said she currently doesn’t have any meetings scheduled that will conflict with her board duties, but hopes to make other arrangements to participate in meetings should something come up again. Adair said she has suggested to the board that in the event of future absences, she could videoconference in to a meeting again.

“I hope that if something comes up last minute that I will be allowed to attend the meetings virtually and be able to participate,” Adair said.

However, she said the board has not been very receptive of that arrangement and declined her offer to virtually attend Monday’s meeting.

“I had to be away for a couple of weeks for business,” Adair said. “I did offer and was very willing to attend the school board meeting virtually, as I’ve done in the past. But the president of the board thought it not prudent because of the reaction that we received last time that I attended the meeting virtually.”

Board president Marcel Harmon did not immediately return a call Thursday seeking comment.

There is not an explicit procedure regarding attendance in the board policy manual, but it is mentioned in the ethics section. That section states that school board members will “attend all regularly scheduled board meetings insofar as possible and become informed concerning the issues to be considered at those meetings.”