Ronald ‘G.R.’ Gordon-Ross files to run for reelection to Lawrence school board
photo by: Contributed and file photos
Ronald “G.R.” Gordon-Ross always planned to serve more than one term on the Lawrence school board. Now he has thrown his hat in the ring to make that happen.
Gordon-Ross, 46, who was first elected in 2017, recently filed for reelection to the board. He is the first person to file for the board’s elections this year.
Even though it was his original aspiration, Gordon-Ross said it took him some time to decide on filing to run again because the last year — during which the coronavirus pandemic disrupted education and led to conflict among parents, teachers and administrators for months — had been extremely difficult.
“This last year really made me reconsider if I wanted to do another four more years,” Gordon-Ross told the Journal-World on Tuesday. “(But) it felt like sticking to that original goal was important, and I felt like there are still things left to do.”
Students are back in classrooms now after a year of remote learning, and Gordon-Ross said that navigating through the most immediate challenges of the pandemic had prepared him for whatever comes next.
What’s next will certainly include addressing the district’s budget woes. As the Journal-World previously reported, the district saw a significant decrease in enrollment because of the pandemic, and that’s expected to decrease the amount of state funding the district receives. The district recently said it expected the shortfall to be around $1.2 million.
One way the district plans to address the shortfall is to close Kennedy Elementary School and turn it into an early childhood education center. The district will be considering that plan later this month.
But Gordon-Ross said he knows that plan wouldn’t solve the budget issue on its own. He doesn’t have specific answers yet for how to address the remainder of the shortfall, but he said he felt like he had the experience to work on the issue.
He also said that if he were elected to another term, he would want to take proactive budget steps to ensure the district wouldn’t face future budget crises every few years. He also said he wanted to help the district make its facilities as efficient as possible.
The pandemic has also affected the district’s and the board’s relationships with teachers, staff and the local community. Because of that, Gordon-Ross said the board had “burned through a lot of trust capital” with those groups, and he wants to help rebuild it.
Gordon-Ross is the father of five children; two of them have graduated from Lawrence High School, and another one will graduate later this spring. His youngest two children are a freshman at LHS and a seventh grader at Billy Mills Middle School. He said that his younger children were also part of why he wanted to serve a second term — he hopes to “see them through” their education.
Gordon-Ross originally moved to Lawrence as a college student in 1996, and he graduated with a pharmacy degree from the University of Kansas. He now works remotely as a health care IT professional for a hospital in Montana.
Three of the school board’s seven seats will be up for grabs this fall. Along with Gordon-Ross’ seat, the board positions currently held by Kelly Jones and Melissa Johnson are up for election.
The filing deadline for the school board seats is noon June 1. The general election is Nov. 2.
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