School board approves revised schedule with 2 meetings per month, selects leadership, extends superintendent contract
photo by: Dylan Lysen/Lawrence Journal-World
The Lawrence school board will continue to meet twice a month during the 2021-22 school year, despite recently considering a plan that would have allowed for just one meeting a month.
The board unanimously approved a revised meeting schedule during its meeting on Monday, which included the board continuing to meet on the second and fourth Mondays of each month. However, the new schedule outlines the first and second meetings for specific purposes.
The first meeting of the month will be used for board business, such as when the board considers policy issues or budget decisions. The second meeting of the month is for reports to the board, such as when district administration provides updates on certain programs.
Previously, the board met twice monthly, but did not specify the two meetings for business and reports.
The board selected the revised calendar after failing to come to a consensus last month on an earlier version of the calendar. That plan proposed the board meeting at least once a month, and then meeting a second time virtually, if deemed necessary.
Some board members said they didn’t believe meeting just once a month would be feasible. 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. Meanwhile, Shannon 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.
Kimball said on Monday she liked the revised schedule because it allows the board to structure meetings more effectively.
During the meeting the board also selected new leadership and extended Superintendent Anthony Lewis’ contract for three years.
The board approved appointing board members Erica Hill as board president and Kimball as board vice president for the 2021-22 school year. Hill, who served as vice president during the 2020-21 school year, replaced Kelly Jones as president.
Hill thanked the community and the school board for the opportunity to serve as president, adding that she takes the responsibility of leading the board “very seriously.” She also thanked Jones for her service as board president last year, which coincided with the bulk of the coronavirus pandemic and required the board to make important decisions on how school would operate during that time.
“You led the board through one of the most challenging times, if not the most challenging time,” Hill said to Jones. “I appreciate you and the district is fortunate to have your leadership.
The board also approved extending Superintendent Anthony Lewis’ contract until June 2024, which consists of the next three school years. The board approved the contract as part of its consent agenda, which allows the board to approve several items at once without discussion.
According to the approved contract, Lewis’ compensation remained the same, with an annual salary of $226,000.
In other business, the board:
• Approved a memorandum of understanding with the City of Lawrence to formalize the Safe Route to Schools program, which is a city program that aims to improve walking and biking paths for students to get to schools.
The board previously deferred taking action on the MOU because of language in the agreement that appeared to commit the district to part of the plan that it was not involved in the crafting and was not prepared to fulfill. Lewis said the city updated the language to address those concerns.
• Heard a report on the school district’s College and Career Academy, which recently completed its first year as an alternative high school program. Principal Bill Dewitt said the program enrolled 67 students by the end of the 2020-21 school year, and 63 of those students, or 94%, are on the path to graduate.
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