Lawrence school board approves timeline, application to appoint replacement for vacant seat

photo by: Rochelle Valverde/Journal-World

The Lawrence school board convenes for a special meeting on May 31, 2023.

The Lawrence school board has approved a process to fill the vacant seat of recently resigned board member Kay Emerson.

As part of a special meeting on Monday, the Lawrence school board voted 6-0 to accept Emerson’s resignation, approve the state-required public notice for the vacancy and adopt a timeline, application and selection process to appoint someone to fill the seat.

Emerson’s term began in 2022 and was scheduled to run through 2025. School board President Shannon Kimball said that according to state law, because Emerson’s resignation happened after May 1 of the second year of her term, the board needed to go through a process to appoint someone who would serve the remainder of her term. She said that a suggested schedule for the application process, based on the process used with a prior vacancy last summer, was proposed in consultation with board officers and Superintendent Anthony Lewis.

Under the approved process and schedule, the vacancy notice will be published in the Lawrence Journal-World on June 6 and also made available online that same day on the district’s website, Applications must be submitted by 5 p.m. on June 13. The board will discuss the applications and select applicants to interview at a special meeting on June 20. At the board’s regular meeting on June 26, the board will interview the selected candidates and appoint one to serve on the board through the end of Emerson’s term on Jan. 12, 2026. Kimball said the person would be sworn in on July 10.

Kimball said the proposed questions for the application were fairly similar to what was used last year, with a couple of slight edits. The board approved the process and application as proposed, without suggesting any edits to the timeline or questions.

The application includes 12 questions and asks applicants to provide at least one Lawrence public schools reference (e.g., teacher, principal, PTA/PTO or site council officer, district staff) and at least two professional or community references. All of the questions are available as part of the board’s agenda packet and include the following:

• What qualities do you think are important to being a successful school board member and how do you embody these qualities?

• Describe your understanding of the role of a school board member with respect to working with 1) administrators, 2) staff, 3) students, and 4) parents.

• What do you think is the greatest strength of the district?

• What do you think is the greatest challenge facing the district?

• How can the board help attract and retain the best possible employees for this district?

• Should the board have any day-to-day involvement in the operations of the schools? Explain.

• What should the board of education’s work be in setting of school district budget priorities?

As the Journal-World reported, Emerson announced on Friday that she was resigning her seat to pursue an opportunity in another community. Emerson was one of three school board members to vote against recent school closures. A news release from the school district states that Emerson plans to move out of state, and she resigned her seat effective immediately on Friday. She was not present for the special meeting.

As part of the meeting, Kimball said she would like to publicly thank Emerson for her service and to acknowledge the time she devoted to the district and its students.

“Serving on the board of education is an extensive time commitment and it takes a lot of preparation and dedication to do this work,” Kimball said.

Lewis also said he would like to extend his gratitude for Emerson’s “tireless efforts” and the many hours she spent preparing for meetings and working in the board room on behalf of Lawrence public schools and the community. He wished her well in her future endeavors.

Apart from Emerson’s seat, there are five board seats up for reelection this coming year. The deadline to file for the election is noon on Thursday.


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