Lawrence Schools Foundation and Superintendent’s Advisory Board member Anne Costello files for election to school board

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Anne Costello

Lawrence Schools Foundation board member and Superintendent’s Advisory Board member Anne Costello has filed for election to the Lawrence school board.

Costello also served on the Futures Planning Committee, which recently provided a budget recommendation to the school board. Costello, who has a degree in social studies education but currently works as a buyer for Payless shoes, said she has long had an interest in public education and government, and was at a point where she was able to pursue public office.

“I have a lot of respect for teachers,” Costello said. “I think seeing what’s been going on, not only in our district but across the state, with school finance and some of the measures that the state Legislature has passed or attempted to pass, I really felt like it was time to make that a reality.”

Costello has two children, ages 8 and 10, who attend Sunflower Elementary and her husband teaches at Lawrence High School. She previously applied for the school board seat vacated when Andrew Nussbaum resigned his position, and was one of four applicants, among a pool of 13, that the board selected to advance to interviews as part of that process. The board ultimately selected Ronald “GR” Gordon-Ross.

Costello said her top issues include the district’s budget, reducing class sizes and retaining and recruiting quality teachers. As far as the budget goes, Costello said the district needs to continue to work to raise teacher salaries and build back up its contingency reserve fund, which functions as the district’s savings account. She said that while a lot of the district’s budget issues stem from the level of funding provided by the state Legislature, including the refusal to fully fund special education, there is room for the district to do “creative problem solving” to identify additional savings in its budget.

“There were a lot of great ideas on the Futures Committee that could use further exploration, I think,” she said. “Because I think we still have these (budget savings) goals to hit, we didn’t hit the goals, so we still need to keep working towards those.”

Costello also said the district needs to reduce class sizes, and that she was encouraged by recent conversations among some board members about the district potentially funding contingency teachers for next school year to do some management in that regard. She said the increases in class sizes and the creation of multigrade elementary classrooms approved as part of last year’s budget cuts were in some cases untenable.

“I’ve heard from teachers in my time on the Superintendent’s Advisory (Board) about how frustrated they are with these large class sizes and how difficult it is to manage, especially when we don’t have full para support for everyone who needs them, let alone having extras,” Costello said.

She also said the district needs to do more to retain and attract quality teachers, especially given the shortage of teachers across the country. She said she wanted Lawrence to be a destination for teachers.

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 Costello, Rachel Stumblingbear and Justine O. Burton have also filed for election.

The filing deadline for the Lawrence school board race is noon on June 1. Candidates will have an Aug. 1 primary, if needed, and the general election will be on Nov. 7. Primaries will be scheduled only if the number of candidates who file is more than three times the number of open seats.

Correction: This article has been updated to indicate the correct the threshold for triggering a primary for school board.


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