Lawrence schools see 25 percent increase in certified staff of color since 2014, reports show

photo by: USD 497 agenda materials

Total staff to student population, as shown in a human resources report included in the agenda for the Lawrence school board's meeting on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. The full report is available at https://www.boarddocs.com/ks/usd497/Board.nsf/Public.

About two-thirds of 2018-19 Lawrence school district students are white, yet that population constitutes 85.8 percent of district staff.

However, numbers from the district going back to the 2014-15 year show that diversity among district employees has been increasing — whites represented 89.2 percent of staff that year. The percentage of staff of color has increased 31.5 percent since the 2014 numbers.

The district has been working to increase diversity among staff over the past several years. The Journal-World has reported that leaders have noted the importance of students seeing themselves represented in their educators and in administrators.

The latest numbers tracking those efforts are included in a human resources report that district staff will present to the school board at its Monday meeting.

Dave Cunningham, executive director of HR and chief legal counsel, and Samrie Devin, director of HR, will share data with board members that highlights what they’re doing to recruit and retain a talented and diverse staff. They’ll also have updates from a recent teacher recruitment fair and a “snapshot of the teacher shortage in Kansas,” according to a memo in the board agenda.

One major goal has been to increase the numbers of teachers of color in the district. The latest report shows that whites constitute 91.5 percent of certified staff (925 employees); by comparison, the 2014-2015 number was 93.2 percent (938). That represents a 25 percent increase in nonwhite certified staff members (from 68 to 86).

According to the report, the district’s 2,069 staff members this year are 2.36 percent American Indian or Alaska Native; 5.27 percent black or African-American; 85.79 percent white; 1.11 percent Asian; .19 percent Native Hawaiian or other Pacific islander; 5.07 percent Hispanic; and .02 percent multiethnic.

The district’s 11,956 students are 2.86 percent American Indian or Alaska Native; 6.42 percent black or African-American; 66.72 percent white; 3.52 percent Asian; .19 percent Native Hawaiian or other Pacific islander; 10.22 percent Hispanic; and 10.07 percent multiethnic.

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In other business:

• The meeting will kick off with a work session on its strategic plan. Board members will review a draft of strategic themes or areas of focus, according to district spokeswoman Julie Boyle. After the board’s review and any changes, Superintendent Anthony Lewis will hold meetings to get feedback from students and teachers.

Two community forums to discuss the strategic plan are scheduled: 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28 at Billy Mills Middle School, 2734 Louisiana St., and 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday, March 4 at Connect Church, 3351 W. 31st St.

• The board will consider a $2.03 million lease with Apple to replace some of the district’s devices from its 2015-16 purchase. Payments would be spread over four years, but with a promotional 0 percent interest rate. That is on the board’s consent agenda, meaning it is considered routine and will likely be approved along with several other items, unless a board member or the superintendent pulls it for discussion.

• After the regular meeting, the board and some district administrators will enter an executive session to gear up for the next round of union negotiations.

For the 2018-2019 contracts, negotiations began in June and continued until Dec. 10; after two sessions with a federal mediator, the board agreed to a contract that Lawrence Education Association teachers had voted 687-37 to approve. That contract gave all teachers a raise of $1,200 but did not provide step raises for teachers who had achieved higher levels of education.

• • •

The school board’s work session will begin at 5 p.m., with the regular meeting to follow at 6 p.m. on Monday at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive. Agenda materials are available via usd497.org.

Contact Mackenzie Clark

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Lawrence school district 2018-2019 contract negotiations

• Dec. 10, 2018 — Lawrence school board approves contract giving teachers $1,200 raise

• Dec. 9, 2018 — Lawrence school board to consider teachers contract, compensation packages for staff

• Nov. 27, 2018 — Lawrence school district, teachers union reach tentative agreement on contract

• Nov. 19, 2018 — Lawrence school district, teachers union make progress during 7-hour mediation, but don’t reach agreement

• Oct. 10, 2018 — Lawrence school district, teachers union agree to 2nd day of federal mediation on 2018-19 contract

• Oct. 9, 2018 — Lawrence school district, union to meet with federal mediator in attempt to end contract impasse

• Sept. 24, 2018 — ‘Work your contract’: Lawrence teachers can’t strike, but they are cutting back in other ways

• Aug. 29, 2019 — Lawrence school district, teachers union at impasse over 2018-19 contract

• Aug. 28, 2018 — Lawrence school district, teachers union will try to narrow $1 million compensation gap

• Aug. 10, 2018 — Teacher pay proposals from union, district leaders differ by more than $1 million

• July 18, 2018 — Lawrence union asks for new contract that would give all teachers at least $2,200 raise

• June 4, 2018 — Lawrence teachers union proposes adding 5 positions; negotiators defer salary discussion

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