The Lawton Board of Education will be accepting resumes from east Lawton residents who are interested in serving as a school board member.

Kelly Edwards, who was elected to the board in 2018 after being appointed to the position in late 2017, tendered her resignation Thursday. According to a statement read by School Board President Patty Neuwirth, Edwards and her family recently moved, purchasing property that is located outside of the Lawton Public Schools District, and that disqualifies her from holding a seat on the Lawton Board of Education. Edward’s resignation was effective Thursday, according to the statement.

Neuwirth also is asking residents who live in Area 3 to submit resumes to Shoemaker Education Center if they are interested in holding the Area 3 seat. That area includes the attendance areas of Carriage Hills, Lincoln, Pioneer Park and Sullivan Village elementary schools. The voting precincts included that area are Precinct 29 E.E. Davis Activity Building, 3416 Overland; Precinct 31 Trinity Assembly of God, 202 SE 45th; Precinct 32 Patterson Community Center, 4 NE Arlington; Precinct 33 Aldersgate United Methodist Church, 41 SE Ford Road; Precinct 34 Church of Christ at Park Lane, 4906 Avalon; Precinct 43 Flower Mound School, 2901 SE Flower Mound Road; and Precinct 49 Letitia Baptist Church, 1 mile south of Oklahoma 7 on Oklahoma 65.

Edwards is the CEO and chief marketing strategist at LMG, an advertising agency based in Lawton and serving clients throughout the nation. She graduated from the University of North Texas in 2002 with a bachelor of arts in advertising and marketing, and worked in corporate marketing for 10 years before founding LMG in Lawton in 2012.

Neuwirth said school board members will evaluate resumes from interested candidates and appoint someone to fill Edward’s spot until an election can be held, and expect to make a decision by the December board meeting.

In other business, board members agreed with a proposal from Superintendent Kevin Hime to designate a $150 stipend/bonus for all current employees who have contracts with the district.

Hime said the designation is intended to honor staff members who have been working “extra hard” while dealing with the stress created by the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. He called the bonus something to reward the staff.

“With the COVID virus, our people are doing more,” he said, adding that while the Centers for Disease Control have said the safest place for the nation’s children is in face-to-face instruction settings, “that has not made it easier on our staff.”

School board members also formally approved the calendar for the 2021-2022 school year, one that will start school earlier than it did this school year while giving students and staff a full week at Fall Break and another full week at Thanksgiving. This year, students had an abbreviated Fall Break in exchange for a full week at Thanksgiving, which they will take next week.

Students also started classes much later than normal this school year (Aug. 24), a decision that the district made well before the COVID-19 pandemic forced changes on educational entities. Administrators said last spring that many personnel in the district had asked for a later start time for the academic year, rather than going back to school in early August as they have in past years. School will begin Aug. 12 in 2021, with the week of Oct. 18 designated for Fall Break and the week of Nov. 22 for Thanksgiving Break. The two-week Christmas Break is set Dec. 20-31.

The LPS calendar also will have four virtual days, designated days where all students will attend classes virtually. Hime said the idea, one of the biggest changes in next year’s calendar, will allow the district to practice virtual classes for all students, in case such action must be taken. Those virtual days are set for Sept. 17, Nov. 12, Feb. 18 and April 18.

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