After serving several terms as president of Topeka Unified School District 501’s board of education, Patrick Woods said on Thursday he won’t run for the job again.
“I’ve done it for a while,” Woods, 37, said of the seven years he has served in leadership since his election to the board in 2007, five of which have been as president. “Being a president is another layer of service.”
Woods, who handles talent management and diversity at Westar Energy, said not serving as president of the USD 501 board will allow him to devote his time and energy to the Kansas Association of School Boards of which he will be president-elect beginning Saturday after which he will serve a year as president beginning July 1, 2018.
This is the second time Woods has announced he wouldn’t run as board president. In 2013, he said he wouldn’t seek another one-year term as president, saying it was “time to pass the torch.” Janel Johnson then was elected to serve as president for two years. Board members then re-elected Woods to the president’s post in 2015. He is up for re-election to the USD 501 board in 2019.
The past several years have been some of the “most tumultuous time we’ve ever had,” Woods said, citing the board’s hiring of superintendents and passage of the district’s $143 million bond issue in 2014.
“We laid the groundwork for our strategic plan with the bond issue,” he said. “We got early childhood education included in the bond issue, and we’ve taken concrete steps to make it happen.”
Woods said one example of the board’s commitment to early childhood initiatives is creation of Pine Ridge Prep in East Topeka in partnership with the Topeka Housing Authority and United Way of Greater Topeka. Another, he said, is the district’s repurposing of the former Shaner Elementary. Board members recently approved a $2.96 million renovation of the building to serve as the district’s main preschool center.
Mike Morrison, elected to the USD 501 board in 2013 and now running unopposed in this November’s election, currently serves as vice president and said he would accept the president’s job if elected to the position during the board’s July 6 meeting.
“I would be honored to do that,” he said. “The only reason I’d do it is if the rest of the board wants me to.”
Woods said he plans to support Morrison, a retired physician, if he is nominated.
“Should he do that, he has my full support,” Woods said.
Contact reporter Angela Deines at (785) 295-1143 or @AngelaDeines on Twitter.