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Lawrence school board to vote on plan to make Liberty Memorial Central a STEAM school

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The Lawrence school board on Monday will decide whether Liberty Memorial Central Middle School will become a STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math — school next year.

The Middle School Redesign Committee will present to the board updates on its work, according to Monday’s meeting agenda. Afterward, board members will vote on approving their recommendation of restructuring or repurposing LMCMS into a school focused on STEAM.

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The school would be available to all students who reside within the LMCMS boundaries as well as any students in sixth through eighth grades, both within the district and outside of district boundaries, “who determine that the curriculum and instruction at LMCMS would best meet their learning needs,” according to the agenda.

District administrators had suggested repurposing LMCMS as a themed or magnet school as part of recommended budget cuts back in February. Lawrence school board members, however, voted to delay any changes and instead establish a committee to spend a year investigating the idea.

The STEAM school idea was introduced to the board during the Sept. 26 meeting, where board members learned the top student respondents in a district survey said they were most interested in STEAM-based careers.

Since the Sept. 26 update to the board, the committee has divided into working groups and toured schools, attended STEAM professional development events and worked with potential partners, according to the agenda.

The committee’s report on Monday will provide the board with “an overview of the curriculum adjustments and examples of partnerships that would support those adjustments, possible schedule changes to support student learning, and next steps.”

If approved, the change would begin with the 2024-25 school year.

Here’s a full report from the meeting agenda (click here to open in a new tab):

20231211-LMCMS-Redesign-Update

In other business:

• Horizontal movement in pay for teachers: As part of the consent agenda — a list of items that are generally approved with one vote, unless a board member or the superintendent asks to discuss an item — the board on Monday will look to approve a tentative memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the district and its certified teachers union.

Lawrence Education Association (LEA) came to an agreement with the district to propose an additional opportunity for teachers to have horizontal movement, meaning pay increases for teachers who achieve additional certification or levels of higher education. 

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With an additional February 2024 processing deadline, teachers who earned credentials this school year could earn a midyear salary increase, according to the agenda item. Qualifying teachers who are unable to make the Aug. 20 processing deadline could also have an additional opportunity to see horizontal movement during the second half of their contract year.

If approved, the horizontal movement in the 2023-24 contract would end on June 30, 2024. View the MOU attached to the meeting agenda item on BoardDocs.

• Executive sessions: Monday’s meeting will have a 15-minute executive session, or closed-door meeting, near the beginning of the meeting to discuss employer-employee negotiations.

The meeting will also conclude with a 45-minute executive session. The board and Superintendent Anthony Lewis are set to discuss “personnel matters of non-elected personnel,” according to the meeting agenda.

The school board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 11 at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive. Meetings are open to the public, livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/@USD497, and broadcast on Midco channel 26. Full meeting agendas are available on BoardDocs.

To give public comment during the board meeting, sign up before the meeting starts either in person or by emailing PublicComment@usd497.org. 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.

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