Lawrence school board president, superintendent say reinstated administrative positions are necessary to support principals

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Post updated at 10:04 a.m. Tuesday, March 26:

The Lawrence school district’s superintendent and school board president on Monday defended the reinstatement of two administrative positions that had previously been cut from the district’s budget.

Jayci Roberson and Waymond Ervin have been hired as the district’s director of elementary schools and director of secondary schools, respectively. Roberson was named on Feb. 28, Ervin was named on March 1, and the Lawrence school board on Monday officially approved the hires.

Both are central office administrative positions that were cut as part of millions of dollars in staffing reductions the school board approved in spring of 2022. The total cuts to administration amounted to $577,441 — about 9% of the $6.41 million in total cuts. 

Amid budget discussions last year, when the board ultimately voted to close two elementary schools and cut 50 teaching positions, Superintendent Anthony Lewis told the board he would not consider additional administrative cuts because of the cuts made the prior year. Many Lawrence community members have voiced concerns about the decision to add two of the positions back into the budget. 

Lewis said Monday that principals need the same support that they give their teachers, and directors of elementary and secondary schools will act as “principal supervisors.”

Lewis also shared Monday that the district is planning to implement “deans of schools” to assist with student behavior issues. He said the district will be able to afford at least three of those positions — one for elementary schools and two for middle schools. Lewis didn’t expand on those job descriptions or a timeline to fill them.

Board President Kelly Jones said the board requested the district reinstate the elementary and secondary director positions because principals need dedicated support that other administrators don’t have the capacity to provide.

Jones had asked administrators in November to look into the impact that cutting the positions has had on principals’ ability to ensure teachers could complete new training. She asked that district administrators provide a recommendation back to the board around staffing.

Jones said she felt that additional aid was missing during recent pivotal moments.

“We did not have these positions when we introduced Montessori, multi-age classrooms; when behavioral health issues for staff and students skyrocketed due to COVID; when scheduling shifts were made at the middle school level; and communications to negotiations was frankly lacking,” Jones said. 


“… In each of those cases where there are challenges and successes, I see how the directors of elementary and secondary education would have played an integral role in principal support and teacher and student advocacy,” she continued. “Having served on the board when there were elementary and secondary education director positions, and when there were not, I observed the loss of those positions negatively impacted students’ and teachers’ experiences in several buildings, nearly immediately.”

Jones said the board has also requested adding more teacher positions that will lower next year’s class sizes and student-to-teacher ratios. Administrators will recommend to the board how many of those positions should be considered.

Roberson is currently the Woodlawn Elementary School principal and will serve in her new role the remainder of the school year.

Ervin is coming to the district after going on five years as principal of Northeast High School in Kansas City, Missouri, and will begin in his new role on July 1.

The school board unanimously approved the two new hires as part of their consent agenda Monday.

Note: This post has been updated to reflect that Jones asked about the administrative positions during a November 2023 board meeting.

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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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