Lawrence school board to welcome new members, hear survey report highlighting teacher performance

Lawrence Public Schools district offices, 110 McDonald Drive.

The Lawrence school board will start a new era Monday with the swearing-in of three members to their first full four-year terms on the board.

Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew will swear into office Melissa Johnson, Kelly Jones and Ronald “G.R.” Gordon-Ross at a 5:45 p.m. ceremony Monday at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive.

Johnson, who was appointed to the board in March 2017, will be sworn into the seat she won in the November election. Jones and Gordon-Ross were elected to their first terms on the board and will fill the seats of departing board members Vanessa Sanburn and Marcel Harmon, both of whom chose not to run for re-election.

The newly seated members will join the rest of the board in hearing results of a resident survey and, in an executive session, to consider applications for the district superintendent position.

Survey results

Ken DeSieghardt, CEO of Patron Insight Inc., will present the results of a phone survey of 400 district residents that his firm conducted in November and December. Residents were given questions and asked to respond with letter grades of “A” through “F.”

In a report to the board, DeSieghardt said the performance of district teachers earned the highest score, a GPA of 4.37, calculated by an “A” grade equaling five points and an “F” grade equaling one point. Other calculated responses were the district’s quality of education, 4.30; performance of principals, 3.97; and the district’s use of technology to enhance learning, 3.96.

Responses finishing lowest on the scale were the balance of spending among athletics, academics and the arts, 3.41; class sizes, 3.53; efforts to involve students in decision-making, 3.57; and the district’s record of making and fulfilling promises, 3.60.

Superintendent search

In December, the board met in closed session with Ryan Ray, president of search firm Ray & Associates, to review applications from 11 candidates for the superintendent position. The board planned to invite five to seven candidates from the list to Lawrence for interviews the week of Jan. 15.

That first list of candidates will not be made public. However, the names of the three finalists chosen after those interviews will be shared with the public before they return the week of Jan. 22 for a second round of interviews. The public will also have an opportunity to meet and interact with the finalists during that week, Ray said.

In other business, the board will:

• Receive an update on middle school upgrades to be made from the $87 million bond issue district voters approved in May.

• Receive a report from Kyle Hayden, the district’s chief operations officer, on the four-year capital improvement projects plan. The plan would spend $10.38 million on facility improvements and maintenance, leases and technology upgrades to district facilities in 2018.

• Receive a report from Kevin Harrell, district executive director of student support services and special education, and Laura Basham, assistant director of special education, concerning the possibility of the district becoming the lead agency in the county for Tiny-K Early Intervention Services. In a memo to the board, Harrell said Douglas County government and the Kansas State Department of Education support the district being the lead agency for the program, which helps families identify and address developmental delays in children from birth to age 3.