Plenty of work awaits new Lawrence school board

Test scores are up. Four-year high schools and four “new” middle schools are about to open. Operations are streamlining, career pathways are expanding and results-oriented discussions regarding race are continuing.

And there’s more to come, said Rick Doll, superintendent of the Lawrence school district.

“We’re not yet a well-oiled machine,” Doll said Monday night, as he recounted achievements and goals accomplished during the past year. “We’re not there yet. … We have a lot of improvement we can still make.”

During the last regular meeting of the latest edition of the Lawrence school board — one whose members were elected in 2007 and 2009 — Doll ran down the district’s progress on its goals established for 2010-12 school year.

Members both staying and outgoing know there still is plenty of work ahead:

• Supporting a new volunteer working group tasked with recommending a plan to consolidate elementary schools.

• Grappling with ongoing budget challenges, while striving to boost student achievement.

• Considering possibilities for a proposed bond issue, one that would be expected to deal with longtime physical and operational needs of elementary schools.

Then there’s public involvement, boundaries, resource allocation, Adequate Yearly Progress and more that will be sure to emerge as the months go by.

“Those won’t go away,” said Mark Bradford, one of three board members — Bob Byers and Vanessa Sanburn as the others — who will remain on the board next month, each with two years of board experience.

Four new board members, elected in April, formally join the board for its July 11 meeting: Rick Ingram, Shannon Kimball, Randy Masten and Keith Diaz Moore. The new seven-member board will set its own goals during an upcoming meeting, likely in July or August.

Morgan, one of three departing members whose combined board experience totaled 40 years, said he expects the past year’s efforts to lead to continued improvements for the district.

“We’ve moved it along,” Morgan said. “We didn’t dig the hole deeper.”

Monday night, the current board’s last formal decision was to spend $105,000 to buy new band uniforms for Free State High School, to be made during the next year and ready for the 2012 marching season.