Software developer and current Lawrence school board member Ronald ‘GR’ Gordon-Ross files for election
Software developer and current Lawrence school board member Ronald “G.R.” Gordon-Ross has filed for election to the school board.
Gordon-Ross, who previously served on the board and was appointed last year to fill a vacant seat, said that he thinks he has insight and knowledge that can help the board as it continues to respond to enrollment declines in the district.
“Everything we do should lay a foundation to impact the school district five years or ten years into the future,” he said. “And I feel like, based on where we’re at right now and the transition, I feel like that is even more important. And so having knowledge and understanding and experience of what got us here is going to be vitally important to get us through this period of change.”
Gordon-Ross is originally from Kearney, Missouri, and moved to Lawrence in 1996 to attend the University of Kansas. He has a doctorate in pharmacy from KU and works remotely as a software developer for a healthcare system based out of Pennsylvania. Apart from his current service on the school board, he said he is active in his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and in his son’s Boy Scout troop. He has five children, two of whom still attend school in the district, both at Lawrence High School.
Gordon-Ross, who was among the four school board members to vote to close Pinckney and Broken Arrow elementary schools amid the district’s budget challenges, said that the district’s finances would continue to be a focus. The board also voted to turn Liberty Memorial Central Middle School into a magnet school under a yet-to-be determined theme or themes and is in the process of transitioning New York Elementary to a public Montessori school.
“How do we continue to lay this foundation of financial stability going into the future is probably the (issue) that everything else falls under,” Gordon-Ross said.
Also related to the budget, he said the district needs to continue to improve salaries for both teachers and staff. He said as a member of the district’s facilities committee, he also thinks solar energy represents a real opportunity for the district, not only to offset utility costs, but to be more environmentally sustainable and provide curricular opportunities for students. The school board recently voted to pilot solar panels next school year.
He said the district also needs to continue its efforts to shrink the digital divide of internet and technology access among students and work on the achievement gap for marginalized students. Lastly, when making decisions, he said he has a personal goal to do more of his own research, and not only rely on the information the district provides the board. He gave the recent example of the board’s vote to change middle school schedules, which the board later learned was a violation of the teachers union contract.
“We found that out after they presented it to us,” he said. “So I think it’s just a good example of trying to find a way to be better at not having that happen, or to address it when it’s presented to us.”
As the Journal-World reported, district administration told the board in error that schedule changes associated with recently approved teacher reductions could be approved by the board when they actually should have been negotiated with the Lawrence Education Association, the union representing teachers and other certified staff. Ultimately, union and district representatives negotiated a temporary addendum to the contract that will be in place for one year and will have to be negotiated next year.
Gordon-Ross previously served one term on the board, from 2018 to 2021, but lost his reelection race in 2021 after he came in fourth place behind newcomer Andrew Nussbaum. Nussbaum ended up resigning in 2022, less than seven months after being sworn in, and the school board selected Gordon-Ross to fill the seat through the end of this year. Four of the six school board members selected Gordon-Ross as their top choice as part of that process.
The terms of school board President Shannon Kimball, Vice President Paula Vann, Past President Erica Hill and board member Carole Cadue-Blackwood will expire at the end of this year. In addition to Gordon-Ross, eight other candidates have filed for election: Rachel Stumblingbear, Anne Costello, Yolanda Franklin, Cadue-Blackwood, Kevin Coronado, Edward (E.J.) Gonzales, Brandon Moore and Jody Meyer. The general election will take place Nov. 7.
In addition to the four four-year terms up for election, there is a special election for the remaining two years in Nussbaum’s term. Four candidates have filed for election for that seat: Justine O. Burton, Tierra Teske, Ariel Miner and Kimball. Burton also filed for election to the Lawrence City Commission. Because the number of candidates who filed for the special election is more than three times the number of open seats, there will be a primary on Aug. 1 in the race for this seat.