Lawrence school board to consider new leadership, proposed schedule change during reorganization meeting

photo by: Dylan Lysen/Lawrence Journal-World

Lawrence Public Schools district offices pictured in April 2021.

The Lawrence school board will consider appointing new board leaders and finalizing a new meeting schedule during its next meeting.

The board will meet for its annual reorganization meeting on Monday, which includes the board selecting its leadership for the next year.

The board’s current vice president, Erica Hill, is expected to be appointed as board president, and board member Shannon Kimball is expected to be appointed as vice president, according to the board’s meeting agenda. Currently, Kelly Jones is serving as the board’s president.

The board will also continue discussions about its proposed meeting schedule for the 2021-22 school year, which includes meeting in person once a month and holding a second meeting virtually if deemed necessary.

Traditionally, the board meets in person twice a month — on the second and fourth Mondays of each month. But the pandemic disrupted that process and the board began to meet virtually, much like other local government agencies.

The proposed meeting schedule shows the board meeting in person on the second Monday of each month, then meeting virtually on the fourth Monday, if necessary.

The board discussed the proposed meeting schedule last month, but did not agree on whether to approve it. Board member Carole Cadue-Blackwood said she thought that the board needed to focus on building trust with voters after the pandemic and that meeting in person only once a month would hinder that. Kimball said she feared the change would slow down the board’s policy work because the board needs to consider a policy during two separate meetings before it can be finalized.

Meanwhile, Jones said she thought it was worth trying the proposed schedule, gauging how often the virtual meeting is used and returning to the traditional schedule during the school year if needed.

In other business, the board will hear an update on the College and Career Academy, a career-focused alternative high school program that launched during the 2020-21 school year.

The academy offers “full day” school at the Lawrence College and Career Center to Lawrence High School and Free State High School students who have completed their first year at those schools.

Along with core education requirements, the academy provides students with courses focused on career preparation in several fields, such as culinary arts, computer technology, automotive repair and construction, among others.

The report on Monday will focus on the academy’s progress during its first year.

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