Lawrence school board to consider seeking grant to hire district social workers

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Citing an increased need for more mental health support for students, the Lawrence school district and Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center are hoping to hire 26 social workers by 2028.

An outline of the district’s proposed application for a federal grant is up for the school board’s approval Monday.

The district’s goal is to “recruit, hire and retain 16 racially and ethnically diverse general education social workers” for schools by the 2028-29 academic year, according to the school board’s meeting agenda for Monday. They’d be based in schools and targeting rural, low socioeconomic status and Hispanic students.

Beginning in 2025, the district hopes to add four social workers each year to reach its goal.

The district currently collaborates with Bert Nash on the WRAP (Wellness, Resources, Access and Prevention) program, which in January expanded to offer free, ongoing care for students. Within the same timeline as the district plans to hire social workers, Bert Nash hope to add 10 more WRAP therapists to serve in Lawrence schools, according to the agenda item.

Another six WRAP therapists, who would be employees of Bert Nash, would serve Eudora, Baldwin City and Perry-Lecompton schools, according to the agenda item.

Mental Health Coordinator Kiley Luckett would reallocate 60% of her job for one year to working on the project; then for the following four years, she’d reallocate 30% of her job to the project, according to the agenda. The district’s facilitator of recruitment and retention would also devote 25% of their time to that work in the first year, and 10% of their time over the following four years. The grant would pay for that time.

The district is also considering ways to collaborate with the University of Kansas, Haskell Indian Nations University, Washburn and Ottawa universities, and Johnson County and Kansas City Kansas community colleges to fill mental health support roles.

View the proposal for Monday attached to the meeting agenda item on BoardDocs.

In other business

• Board policy on school closures: The board on Monday will look to approve on second reading a policy revision about how the district can close school buildings. The revision would bring the district policy in line with Kansas House Bill 2138, which went into effect July 1.

The board would still be required to hold public hearings on proposed building closures.

Added to the policy is information stating that “If a valid request is made not later than 45 days after the adoption of a resolution to close a school building or buildings, the state board of education shall conduct an administrative review of the resolution and issue an advisory determination … to the school district that states whether the school district’s resolution is reasonable under the totality of the circumstances.”

The state statute clarifies that such a review would occur “if the state board receives a request for administrative review signed by at least 5% of the registered voters of such school district who are dissatisfied with such resolution.”

“No resolution adopted in regard to a school closing shall be effective until, at a minimum, the 45-day time period has elapsed without a request for administrative review,” the policy revision states.

The draft is on the board’s consent agenda — a list of items that are generally considered routine and are approved with one motion unless a board member or the superintendent asks to pull something for further discussion. See the draft attached to the agenda item on BoardDocs.


• Student wellness report: The school board on Monday will also hear a report on the district’s social-emotional learning and mental wellness work.

Administrators will share updates on CharacterStrong, the district’s social-emotional curriculum at each school in addition to their efforts to support students’ wellness, including the intent to hire more school-based mental health professionals.

View the presentation for Monday attached to the agenda item on BoardDocs.

• Executive session: Monday’s meeting will begin with a 20-minute executive session, or closed-door meeting, to discuss employee contract negotiations. The board, Superintendent Anthony Lewis, Cynde Frick, Cynthia Johnson, Kristen Ryan, Megan Epperson, Larry Englebrick and Kevin Harrell will be present.

The school board meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Monday, April 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 on BoardDocs, via

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.

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