School board candidate Kay Emerson wants to ask the questions parents need to make important decisions

photo by: Contributed photo

Kay Emerson

Kansas Volunteer Commission worker Kay Emerson said it wasn’t a matter of whether she would run for the Lawrence school board, but a matter of when.

As of Tuesday, that “when” is now, she said.

Emerson, 35, was among the five newcomers who filed for school board on Tuesday. She told the Journal-World that she wanted to run to ensure that parents had the necessary resources and information to make good decisions for their children.

If elected, Emerson said she would focus on asking important questions to make sure parents’ voices are heard and that parents understood what opportunities were available for their children.

“I think that’s the role that the school board plays; being that voice to ask those questions and get the answers so our families are able to make the decisions that are best for them,” she said. “Every student deserves a choice to have the success they need and want.”

Emerson said she got a taste of that kind of work when she served on the board’s COVID-19 advisory committee. She and many others focused on how the district made decisions and shared information with families as the pandemic changed the way school was conducted for about a year.

That information was important to help parents decide how their children would learn this past year. Some students took classes in-person, while others used remote learning methods the entire school year. Emerson said her son, who will soon be a seventh grader at West Middle School, learned remotely during the pandemic.

“Our students have very different learning paths,” Emerson said. “Our school district had to focus on meeting these different students’ needs where they were at.”

Emerson is also the chair for the board’s parents of color advisory committee.

Emerson works as the Americorps Kansas director for the Kansas Volunteer Commission, which is under the umbrella of the state Department of Education. She is originally from Topeka but has lived in Lawrence since she moved here to attend the University of Kansas in 2004.

Emerson is one of 12 candidates for the school board’s three open seats. Because of the number of candidates, a primary election is required.

The primary election will be Aug. 3, and the general election will be Nov. 2.

Related coverage:

• June 1, 2021 — 5 more candidates file for Lawrence school board, triggering primary election

• May 28, 2021 — Lawrence school board’s current leader files for reelection; former special education teacher also joins the race

• May 27, 2021 — Fifth candidate files to run for Lawrence school board; RPG owner says he’s passionate about education options, mental health issues

• May 24, 2021 — 3 newcomers file to run for Lawrence school board election

• April 6, 2021 — Ronald ‘G.R.’ Gordon-Ross files to run for reelection to Lawrence school board

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