3 newcomers file to run for Lawrence school board election

photo by: Journal-World

Lawrence Public Schools district offices pictured in April 2021.

Three new faces will be vying for seats on the Lawrence school board.

Melissa Clissold, 45; Douglas Redding, 53; and Travis Tozer, 37, recently filed to run for the board, bringing the total to four candidates for three open seats.

All three recently spoke to the Journal-World about their reasons for filing, including concerns about a recent school building closure, advocacy for the special needs community, and a commitment to serve the public.

Previously, incumbent G.R. Gordon-Ross filed for reelection. 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. Deputy County Clerk R.J. Wilson said a primary election would be necessary only if 10 candidates filed to run.

Melissa Clissold

photo by: Contributed photo

Melissa Clissold

Clissold, a paraeducator for the school district, said she chose to run for school board to be an advocate for the community she serves, which includes students with special needs and their families.

Paraeducators, also known as paras, are classroom teaching assistants who do not have a teaching license but provide additional support to students. They often work with students with special needs.

Clissold said if she is elected to the board, she will resign from her position as a paraeducator. The district’s paraeducators recently formed a union and are negotiating with the board and district administrators for their first contract.

Clissold also served as a cheer coach for Liberty Memorial Central Middle School and Billy Mills Middle School.

Clissold has children, but she said they are adults now and attended school in Franklin County. She moved to Lawrence in 2016 after they finished their education.

Douglas Redding

photo by: Contributed photo

Douglas Redding

Redding, who currently works as a bus driver, said he chose to run for school board because of the recent closure of Kennedy Elementary School.

As a parent of three children who have all attended Kennedy in some capacity, Redding said he was disappointed to see the district close the elementary school, especially after it was renovated in recent years. The district plans to move the students at Kennedy to nearby elementary schools and use the facility as an early-childhood education center.

Redding said the decision felt similar to when the district closed the former elementary school at the district’s East Heights building.

“It seems whenever a school closes, it’s in the central or east part of town,” Redding said, adding that he wants to be a voice on the board for those neighborhoods.

Redding said he grew up in Lawrence and has three children. One is currently a student at Liberty Memorial, and another attends Lawrence High School. Redding said his oldest previously graduated form LHS.

Travis Tozer

photo by: Contributed photo

Travis Tozer

Tozer, who is a field service engineer, said he has had to travel for work regularly, which had kept him from contributing to the community as much as he’d like.

But now his traveling days are coming to an end, and he would like to begin serving the public, he said.

“With the tumultuousness of the past year, and the end of my time on the road, I want to bring my skill set to public office and serve the Lawrence community,” Tozer said in an email. “I chose to run for school board because I have long been passionate about public education and its value beyond what can be streamed through WebEx,” he added, referring to the web service the district has used to stream public meetings.

Tozer said he has lived in Lawrence since 2007. He has two children in the district, with one attending New York Elementary and another attending West Middle School.

Contact Dylan Lysen

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