Lawrence school board to consider committee to propose middle school’s name change

Lawrence Public Schools district offices, 110 McDonald Drive.

The Lawrence school board will consider Monday the appointment of a committee to be charged with recommending a name change for South Middle School.

South Principal Keith Jones presented the school board on Nov. 13 the possible name changes the South Site Council recommended. Those recommendations included Kansa South, Arrowhead South, Billy Mills South and Jim Thorpe South, and retaining the name South.

Board members Vanessa Sanburn, Rick Ingram, Melissa Johnson and Jessica Beeson expressed support of a name change that would honor Native Americans, but a majority of board members also said they would prefer just one recommendation be presented to them. They agreed a community committee should be developed to help make a recommendation for the board to consider at its Dec. 11 meeting. The board will discuss Monday the process of how to form a committee of stakeholders to be charged with recommending the name change.

In remarks to the board at the Nov. 13 meeting, South parent Carole Cadue-Blackwood, a Kickapoo tribe member who started consideration of the name change to honor Native Americans with a June letter to the district, recommended the school be renamed for Mills. The name change would improve race relations in the community and send a positive message to district Native American students and those of other minorities, she said.

Cadue-Blackwood said changing South’s name to honor Native Americans was appropriate because the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs and Haskell Institute, as the school was known before its name was changed to Haskell Indian Nations University, donated the land on which South and the adjacent Broken Arrow Elementary School were built in 1968. Broken Arrow was specifically named in honor of the donated land, according to that school’s website.

In other business, the school board:

• Will receive calendar change recommendations for the 2018-2019 school year.

• Receive a report from David Cunningham, district human resources director and chief legal counsel, on student documents and information that cannot be released or disclosed without consent.

• Consider design and construction administration agreements for projects in the $87 million bond issue voters approved in May. The agreements include a $1.12 million contract with Clark-Huesemann for projects involving the district’s four middle schools, a $23.625 contract with Treanor Architects for improvements to the Lawrence College and Career Center, and a $49,385 contract with Nabholz Construction Services for projects at Deerfield, Kennedy and Schwegler elementary schools.

The board will meet at 6 p.m. Monday at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive.