Principals named for Liberty Memorial Central Middle School, Prairie Park Elementary

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The Lawrence school district on Friday announced Jennifer Schmitt as the new principal of Liberty Memorial Central Middle School, and Jason Townsend will become permanent principal of Prairie Park Elementary School, where he has served in the interim role this year.

Schmitt is currently in her first year as the interim principal of Pinckney Elementary School. The Lawrence school board voted on March 27 to close Pinckney and Broken Arrow Elementary as part of a package of budget cuts.

Schmitt has previously served as an assistant principal at Lawrence High School and an instructional learning coach at Billy Mills Middle School, and she taught Spanish at LHS, Free State High School, and LMCMS for 5 1/2 years, according to the release.

“I am thrilled to continue to serve our students and school community in accepting this role at LMCMS,” Schmitt said in the release. “My first days as an educator were at Central as a student teacher. It has long been a place I hoped to return. I  am excited to work with its team of talented educators to create a top-notch middle school that serves our community well.”

Townsend was named interim principal of Prairie Park in May 2022. He previously worked as an academic interventionist at West Middle School for a year, and prior to that, he served as an elementary principal in Spring Hill for two years and Wellsville for four years, according to the release. He also taught at the elementary level for seven years in Mulvane.

“I look forward to continuing the good work we do at Prairie Park, including closing the current school year in a strong, positive way and returning next year to focus on and enjoy all of the great things that Prairie Park is and does,” Townsend said in the release. “We have an outstanding team of district administrators, building staff, students, and families. I am grateful to continue to serve as Prairie Park’s principal and to soak it all in.”

Schmitt will take the place of current principal Anne Hawks who will resign effective June 30 for an administrative position in a suburban Kansas City, Missouri, school district.

District administrators had recommended LMCMS be repurposed in the coming school year as a magnet or themed school, possibly with a fine arts focus. But school board members in February voted to delay those plans and instead create a committee to explore the potential for a repurpose of the building.

Schmitt’s new position is effective July 1, and Townsend’s is effective immediately, both pending school board approval.

The district also announced Friday that Amanda Green, interim principal of Broken Arrow, has been selected for a position in which she will help families transitioning out of the two schools that are closing.

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