Lawrence school board says goodbye to two members as their terms end

Share this post or save for later

The final Lawrence school board meeting of 2023 on Monday was also the final meeting for two board members, Erica Hill and Paula Vann.

Neither Hill nor Vann ran for reelection this year.

Lawrence voters on Nov. 7 elected incumbents Carole Cadue-Blackwood and GR Gordon-Ross in addition to newcomers Anne Costello and Yolanda Franklin for four-year terms. Incumbent Shannon Kimball was also reelected for a two-year term.

Fellow board members on Monday thanked Hill and Vann for the skills and lessons they learned from them along the way.

Superintendent Anthony Lewis expressed gratitude toward Hill and Vann for their volunteer service, especially during unprecedented woes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He read a long list of accomplishments of the district and decisions of the board during the past four years.

“Both of you have been amazing and huge champions for our equity work, raising the achievement for all students and closing opportunity gaps, holding us accountable, [and] asking tough and needed questions that allowed us to really examine how we were serving all of our students,” Lewis said.

Elected in 2019, Hill and Vann have served on the board since January 2020. Both participated in various committees throughout their terms. Hill was board vice president in 2020-21 and president in 2021-22. Vann served as board vice president for the 2022-23 year.

Lawrence school board members Erica Hill, left, and Paula Vann look at the plaques they were given to recognize their service on the board during their last meeting, Dec. 11, 2023. (Screenshot / USD 497 YouTube)

Hill led work to found the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Health Summer Leadership Academy, which engages high school sophomores, juniors and seniors who are interested in health care careers.

“I also thank everyone for the kind words and farewell,” Hill said to her colleagues Monday. “It’s been a pleasure serving in this capacity alongside all of you, so thank you.”


Vann said her time in the district has felt like it’s come full circle. She attended school in the district beginning in third grade, and now her children are growing up in the district, too.

An enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate and an advocate for Native American students, Vann said that she’s hopeful the district’s Native American Student Services can continue to help pave the way for students it serves.

She also added words of encouragement to community members.

“I’d like to just ask that you don’t stop advocating for your students,” Vann said. “It just makes us a better district and a better board.”

During the board’s first meeting of the new year — Monday, Jan. 11 — Costello and Franklin will begin their terms.

In other business, the board voted to make Liberty Memorial Central Middle School a STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math — school beginning next year. Read more about that in this article.

If our local journalism matters to you, please help us keep doing this work.
Don’t miss a beat … Click here to sign up for our email newsletters

Click here to learn more about our newsletters first

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.

Latest Lawrence news:


Previous Article

Caution tape cut to celebrate almost-complete East 23rd Street reconstruction

Next Article

Liberty Memorial Central Middle School will become a STEAM school next year