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Lawrence school board selects 4 candidates to advance to interviews for board vacancy

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Post last updated at 9:36 p.m. Monday, Aug. 22:

The Lawrence school board on Monday took a vote and selected four out of 13 applicants seeking to fill a vacant board seat who will advance to the next round.

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GR Gordon-Ross (4 votes), Clint Ramirez Stephens (4), Amy McVey (3), and Anne Costello (3) will advance to interviews with the board next week.

Board members reviewed each application prior to Monday’s meeting and then came prepared to vote on their top four candidates. Some explained the criteria or process in which they used to narrow down their choices. Board President Shannon Kimball said she was focused on experience and commitment to the work.

“Choosing four candidates out of this pool was a challenge, I felt. It’s a talented and committed group of volunteers and advocates and community members with a pretty broad range of experience and background and perspectives,” Kimball said.

Kimball said in discussion prior to the vote that her top 3 candidates were Gordon-Ross, McVey and Heather Sprague. Board member Kelly Jones also said Gordon-Ross was in her top 2; the other was Ramirez Stephens.

“Probably most important for me, I wanted to see people who had experience in board work, either in the education field or elsewhere because doing work as a part of a board like this is different than being a community advocate or being in the private sector, for example,” Kimball said.

“I also wanted to see a demonstration of knowledge and expertise about public education or policy, or finance. I think those are two areas that are really really important — to have some background knowledge about coming into a position like this in the middle of a board term.”

Gordon-Ross has previously been elected to the board. He was not reelected in November 2021, however, coming in fourth place behind Andrew Nussbaum, who resigned from the board last month.

The remaining nine applicants — Kimberly Beets, Trevor Bollinger, Alicia Erickson, Phil Riedel, Jeanette Smith, Sprague, Justin Thomas, Travis Tozer and Lindsay (Lou) Wilson — will now be out of the running for the vacant seat. Tozer, Sprague, Thomas and Erickson each received two votes.

The four selected will be invited to interview with the board at a special meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30 at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive. Board meetings are open to the public. They are also livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel.

The selected applicant will serve until January 2024. Voters will next have an opportunity to weigh in during the November 2023 general election, when five total board seats will be on the ballot.

All board members’ votes were as follows:

Kimball — Sprague, Ramirez Stephens, McVey, Gordon-Ross
Board Vice President Paula Smith — Tozer, Gordon-Ross, Costello, Ramirez Stephens
Board Past President Erica Hill — McVey, Sprague, Gordon-Ross, Ramirez Stephens
Board member Carole Cadue-Blackwood — Costello, Erickson
Board member Kay Emerson — Tozer, Thomas, Costello, Erickson
Jones — McVey, Gordon-Ross, Thomas, Ramirez Stephens

“It takes a lot to put yourself out there to do this work, and especially in a process like this that’s going to happen at a board meeting,” Kimball said after the vote results were announced.

Here are the full applications of the four advancing candidates. The applicant’s last name and the page number are stamped in the bottom left corner of each page to help tell the responses apart. Click here to download the full PDF.

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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