Superintendent Lewis outlines continued education

Lewis explains district’s plan for distanced learning

During an online meeting on Wednesday March 18, Free State journalism editors interviewed  USD 497 Superintendent Dr. Anthony Lewis about the district’s plans for the remainder of the school year. In light of Kansas governor Laura Kelly suspending in-person classes for the next several months, the administration has been working to determine how education will proceed, promising that schooling will begin again in some form on March 30th. 

“We’re waiting on the recommendations [from the state of Kansas],” Lewis said. “We also want to involve the Lawrence Education Association.”

Both Lewis and state officials stressed they would do everything in their power to ensure seniors will be able to graduate. With Kansas Commissioner of Education Randy Watson asking local school boards to relax their graduation qualifications, Lewis submitted a request to the school board to reduce the number of required credit hours from 23 to 21.

Lewis commented that one possible way for the district to continue education  is over the internet, with services like Zoom of Google Suite. However, Lewis also noted the district shouldn’t force students or teachers to learn entirely new technologies in such a short period of time. 

“What we will not do is present any new platform,” Lewis said. “We’re going to look at… what our teachers know, and what our students know.”

Instead, Lewis hopes the system would be more self directed, with teachers looking for alternative ways to measure student performance beyond the traditional testing model and seven period schedule.

Lewis also stated resources such as physical packets would be available for students without a reliable internet connection, along with mental health resources likely through telemedicine.

While events  like Encore and prom are cancelled for the foreseeable future, Lewis still hopes to see prom and graduation rescheduled. 

“I’m going to fight so our students have a prom and graduation,” Lewis said. “I’ll even DJ the prom.”

Lewis explained that all questions about fine arts electives and career/technical education classes will hopefully be answered when the district releases it’s official plan of action.

Link to video of full interview with Dr. Lewis:

Link to story on graduation requirements:

News Brief: School board relaxes graduation requirements