Lawrence school board narrows applicants for vacant seat to 4; interviews scheduled for next week

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Post updated at 7:03 p.m. Tuesday, June 20:

The Lawrence school board on Tuesday chose four applicants to move forward in the process of filling a vacant seat on the board.


The remaining six board members voted to choose Robert (Bob) A. Byers, Rachel I. Thomas, Rebekah Gaston and Paul L. Carttar to interview during their next regular meeting. Learn more about them in this article.

One of the four will be chosen to fill the vacant seat, left by Kay Emerson, who resigned on May 26.

Applicants not chosen to advance include Daniel Businger, Anne Costello, Jeni Daley and Milton Scott. Costello is running for election to the board.

As part of the voting process, each board member on Tuesday was asked to choose four names on a written ballot that was passed out and collected afterward by the board clerk. Votes were then added up and those with the highest counts were announced.

Byers received all six votes, from board President Shannon Kimball and board Vice President Paula Vann as well as board members Erica Hill, Carole Cadue-Blackwood, GR Gordon-Ross and Kelly Jones; Thomas received four votes, from Kimball, Vann, Hill and Jones; Gaston received four votes, from Kimball, Vann, Hill and Jones; and Carttar received four votes, from Kimball, Hill, Cadue-Blackwood and Gordon-Ross.

Prior to voting, board members shared their personal “rubrics” they used to consider applicants, most agreeing that they considered their amount of experience in public education and their vision for the district. Cadue-Blackwood said she looked closer at “community ties” than at experience. Vann added that she looked for people with “missing and unique perspectives.”

Interviews are scheduled to take place during the board’s meeting on Monday, June 26 at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive. The applicant chosen will fill the seat on the board until the end of the term on Jan. 12, 2026.

Upcoming primary election

Five additional school board seats will be on the ballot in the Nov. 7 general election, and there will be an Aug. 1 primary election for one of those seats. In addition to the Lawrence school board, three Lawrence City Commission positions will also be on the ballot. Click here for the full list of candidates.

The deadline to register to vote in order to cast a ballot in the Aug. 1 primary is Tuesday, July 11.

Advance voting begins Wednesday, July 12. Douglas County voters can check their voter registration, register to vote or request an advance ballot by mail at

Candidates who make it through the primary will be on the ballots for the general election, coming up Tuesday, Nov. 7. See candidates for other local governments in Douglas County at this link. Learn more about voting in Douglas County at this link.

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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.

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