USD 204 superintendent announces retirement
After two decades with USD 204, Superintendent Robert VanMaren announced he would retire at the end of this school year.
The USD 204 Board of Education Monday approved his notice of retirement, though it appears the announcement was forced in part due to ongoing disagreements with the school board members. Though board members had no comment on the situation Monday, VanMaren later stated that the board had not agreed to extend his contract beyond this year.
VanMaren began in the district 21 years ago as principal at Bonner Springs High School and became superintendent in 1996.
“You brought us into the 21st century, and we do appreciate what you’ve done,” David Pierce, board president, told VanMaren after the board voted to approve his retirement.
Van Maren released a statement regarding his decision to retire following Monday’s meeting.
“First and foremost I want to say that I am very proud of and thankful for the hard work of our teachers, staff and students during my tenure at USD 204 for the past 21 years,” he said. “The USD 204 team has shown remarkable progress and accordingly, the success of our students and district has been recognized by the state and on a national level.”
VanMaren also thanked the community for its support throughout two bond issues and the implementation of “some very courageous projects through the years.”
“Unfortunately, over the past two years, the school board and I have had ongoing disagreements concerning the direction the district should pursue going forward,” he said. “As a result, the board has elected not to extend my employment contract after 16 years as superintendent. Therefore, I will be retiring from my position as superintendent effective at the end of this school year.
“I wish everyone at USD 204 the very best. I will continue to hope and pray that future decisions will be made with the best interest of our students as their basis.”
The board Monday also approved contacting the Kansas Association of School Boards to begin the process of conducting a search for a new superintendent.
The board also heard information about the Education Foundation’s Honoring Excellence Awards and teacher grants at its Monday meeting.
Grants for $500 were awarded to: Linda Horvath, high school art teacher, to help fund the mural project her students are constructing outside her classroom; Tami Wade, instructional math coach for the elementary schools, for math lessons; Joy Marts, second grade teacher, for an iPad to support reading fluency lessons; Debbie Maddy, Edwardsville Elementary librarian, for an anti-bullying school program; and Kristan Hammond, Edwardsville Elementary art teacher, and Jacob Beck, physical education teacher, for a 20-foot by 50-foot United States map on the school’s playground.
Excellence in Education Awards were presented to Jill Holder, yearbook and journalism teacher, and Sgt. Mark Zaretski, the high school’s unofficial School Resource Officer.
Board members Ray Cox and Olliea Jarrett were not present at the meeting.
In other business, the board:
• Heard a presentation from Kameron Zimmerly, eighth grader, asking for a change in the amount of time for lunch and in the technology use policy at the middle school, during the time for patrons’ questions and/or viewpoints.
• Approved the minutes from the Oct. 15 meeting.
• Approved the treasurer and clerk’s reports and warrants totaling $175,372.
• Approved the band trip proposal for the 2013-14 school year from Bill Turley, high school band director, to participate in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta over winter break.
• Heard a report from Eric Hansen, business and human resources director. Hansen told the board he was developing a new policy for charging for food service and a proposal for an inventory of the district’s fixed assets. He also noted that the county reported its final valuations, which caused the district’s mill levy to drop from 64.34 mills to 63.06 mills.
• Accepted a financial statement audit report for the June 2012 statements, which resulted in an unqualified opinion, meaning no illegal acts were discovered.
• Conducted a 25-minute executive session to discuss negotiations and non-elected personnel.
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