Lawrence school board to consider selling land to affordable housing group, paying contractor more

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The Lawrence school board on Monday will consider selling surplus property to Tenants to Homeowners, and increasing payment to the contractor the district hired to help with budget planning.

Tenants to Homeowners submitted a bid of $1.2 million — nearly three times the low bid — for land at 2600 W. 25th St., just north of the athletic fields at Holcom Park, according to the agenda.


The nonprofit community land trust develops and manages permanently affordable homes, including rentals, and provides education on how to be a successful homeowner. Tenants to Homeowners has been looking to expand its housing offerings to the west — out of nearly 125 properties it manages, only a handful of them are west of Iowa Street.

If the school board approves the sale, the money will go into the district’s capital outlay account, which is primarily reserved for upkeep of buildings, furniture and technology purchases.

• East Heights: Also, since the school board voted to close Pinckney Elementary School after this week, administrators are recommending that the Community Transition (C-Tran) programs held at the East Heights building, 1430 Haskell Ave., be transferred to Pinckney’s building, according to the agenda.

To start that process, the board must approve a release of a Request for Proposals (RFP) to sell the East Heights building as surplus property. If approved, the RFP will be processed and brought back to the board later, and the board can choose to accept or reject a bid. If the property is ultimately sold, that money will also be added to the district’s capital outlay account, according to the agenda.

The sale and RFP release are on the meeting’s consent agenda, a list of items that are considered routine and approved with one vote unless a board member or the superintendent pulls an item for further discussion.

August Rudisell/Lawrence Times East Heights

• Increase in RSP & Associates contract: The board on Aug. 8 approved hiring RSP & Associates, an Overland Park-based education consulting company, on a $120,000 contract to help the district with its 2023-24 budget planning process.

Proposing to close schools required RSP & Associates to do additional work outside of the contract’s scope, including meeting with the Boundary Advisory Committee to create new elementary school boundaries and presenting at an additional board meeting, according to the agenda.

The agenda states that two positions employed by the district last year would have been able to help make projections and budget scenarios, but due to budget cuts, those positions were contracted out.

The board on Monday will be asked to approve an additional $27,500 for RSP & Associates’ contract to be paid out of the district’s general fund, according to the agenda. That’s about a 23% increase.

The pay increase is also on the board’s consent agenda.


In other business:

• Two executive sessions: Monday’s meeting will start with a 15-minute executive session, or closed-door meeting, where the board and district administrators will discuss issues related to nonelected personnel, according to the meeting agenda. If the board takes any action after the executive session, it will be public.

The meeting will also conclude with an executive session, where the board and district administrators will discuss salary contract negotiations for employees, according to the agenda.

• Student-centered learning update: The board will also hear an update on the district’s teaching and learning strategies. Leah Wisdom, director of instruction and professional development, will give a presentation to the board that will update them on the district’s student-centered learning models, according to the meeting agenda. 

The district uses a three-tiered support system, called Ci3T, to address students’ varying academic, behavioral and social needs. As part of Monday’s presentation, Wisdom will update the board on Ci3T practices, the district’s Professional Learning Plan for teachers, and ways the district is monitoring and supporting classroom instruction, according to the agenda. Wisdom will also highlight student academic programs, such as the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program and Jayhawk Blueprint. View the presentation at this link.

• Bond refinancing: Additionally, the board will consider approving a bond refunding sale, according to the agenda. During their meeting on April 24, the board passed a resolution and agreed to move forward with the refunding of the 2013 and 2014 general obligation (GO) bonds into a new 2023-A bond, with the caveat that the district meets a minimum savings target of $2.5 million. 

“The bond sale is set to take place on May 22 and we will receive an update from Stifel Public Finance and/or Gilmore Bell, bond counsel, on Monday night,” according to the agenda. “Savings from the bond refunding will apply to the bond and interest fund as a reduction of our interest payments. Savings does not apply to general operating funds.”

The school board meeting will begin at 6 p.m. Monday, May 22 at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive. Meetings are open to the public, livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel and broadcast on Midco channel 26. Full meeting agendas are available at this link.

To give public comment during the board meeting, sign up before the meeting starts either in person or by emailing Commenters may request to participate by Webex video/phone conferencing.

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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.

— Reporter Mackenzie Clark contributed to this article.

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