Southwest Middle School principal selected as new elementary education leader; school board to consider hire during special meeting

photo by: Contributed and file photos

Kristen Ryan

The Lawrence school district has selected a familiar face to serve as the new administrative leader for elementary education.

The school board on Monday will consider hiring Kristen Ryan, who is currently the principal of Lawrence’s Southwest Middle School, as the new director of elementary schools during a special meeting on Monday. If approved, Ryan will replace Darcy Kraus, who recently announced plans to retire at the end of the school year.

Ryan is currently in her eighth year as the Southwest principal. She joined the school district in 2008, initially serving as a learning coach. Prior to that, Ryan served four years as a school administrator in the Blue Valley and Clay County school districts and six years as a teacher in Augusta, Manhattan and Clay Center.

Superintendent Anthony Lewis said in a news release announcing Ryan’s selection that he thought she would fit well in the position. Last year, he presented Ryan with the Secondary Principal of the Year award, according to the release.

“Kristen is hardworking, beloved by teachers and staff, and genuinely cares about the well-being of everyone on her team,” Lewis said in a news release. “As a leader, she has always put students first and created a school environment where teachers feel valued, respected, and comfortable taking risks and trying new solutions to meet student needs.”

The district said it would immediately begin searching for a new principal at Southwest, which serves about 640 students in grades 6-8.

In other business, the board will consider adopting Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas’ proposal for fringe benefits for the 2021-2022 school year.

The district’s fringe benefits committee determined that Blue Cross Blue Shield’s proposal should be selected because it is similar to the district’s current plan, which is offered by Aetna, but includes a decrease in monthly premium costs, according to a memo in the agenda.

The proposal shows the Blue Cross Blue Shield proposal would include a single plan premium cost of $533.36. The district’s current comparable plan from Aetna is $544.85.

The board is also scheduled to meet for at least an hour in executive session to discuss personnel matters.

The school board will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday through an online conference call. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school district encourages the public to watch the meeting on Midco channel 26 or online at

Those who want to speak during public comments at the meeting can still do so. The district asks for comments to be sent by email to Comments can also be emailed to board members ahead of the meeting. Their contact information is available on the district’s website at

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