Archive for Thursday, January 17, 2008

MSES prize; retirement surprise

Baldwin School District Supt. Paul Dorathy, left, presents Marion Springs Elementary School Principal Gus Wegner with a certificate proclaiming the rural school as one of the winners of the Governor's Award for the second year at Monday night's School Board meeting.

Baldwin School District Supt. Paul Dorathy, left, presents Marion Springs Elementary School Principal Gus Wegner with a certificate proclaiming the rural school as one of the winners of the Governor's Award for the second year at Monday night's School Board meeting.

January 17, 2008

It was a case of good news, bad news at Monday night's Baldwin School board meeting.

After one district elementary school was being lauded for its success, four long-time employees totaling 93 years of service in Baldwin, resigned.

"Those have been good, loyal people to the district for a long time," Supt. Paul Dorathy said. "They have put in many good years of service here. They will be tough to replace."

State assessment results have once again put the Baldwin School District on the map. Marion Springs Elementary School has won the Governor's Achievement Award for the second straight year. MSES is one of 75 schools in the state to receive the honor.

MSES won the award a year ago, along with Baldwin Junior High School. To qualify for the award, a school must have achieved the Standard of Excellence in both reading and math on the 2006 assessments, made Adequate Yearly Progress in both reading, math and one additional measure - attendance for elementary schools. The school must also have been in the top 5 percent of schools in both reading and math for the 2007 state assessments at their respective level.

Forty-four elementary schools, 12 middle/junior high schools and 19 high schools qualified for the prestigious award. Broken Arrow Elementary School, Lawrence, was the only other one in Douglas County to win the award.

"That was a nice thing for our district," Dorathy said. "That just shows the hard work that our students and staff put in at our schools. Congratulations to Marion Springs for achieving the award."

However, not everything was good news Monday night. Four long-time district employees' retirements were approved Monday night. Their combined time in the Baldwin district total 93 years.

The retirees are Tom Mundinger (Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center principal), Marilyn Fischer (BESIC fifth grade teacher), Bernie Bierman (Baldwin High School science/physical education teacher) and Ginny Honomichl (BHS science teacher).

All four will be retiring from Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, but Mundinger was the only one that showed interest in possibly coming back to the district.

"If a mutual agreement can be worked out between myself and the district, then I would hopefully remain as the principal here at the intermediate center," Mundinger said. "That's my preference and that's what I am hopeful for. If it can't be, then I would be retiring from the district."

Mundinger has been with the district for 25 years as the principal of BESIC and formerly BES. He has worked in education for 36 years. He said this is the time for him to start collecting his KPERS benefits.

"I've been eligible for full KPERS retirement," Mundinger said. "This is my fourth year. The longer I've been eligible, the more it goes through my mind that I'm not collecting my KPERS benefits that I've paid into. I have finally reached that point where I am going to start collecting them."

The other three retirees said they will be retiring from the district, but maybe not from working completely. Bierman and Fischer will have completed 23 years of teaching in the Baldwin district when this year finishes.

The thought of retirement crossed Bierman's mind a year ago, but he decided to stick around for one more year. His reasons for leaving included being closer to his two daughters and the time felt right.

"I've been eligible to retire for quite a while," Bierman said. "I'm not sure what I'm going to do, but I will probably have to find some other job to subsidize my retirement.

"I want to spend more time with my family," Bierman said. "I also need to get ahead and put some money aside for real retirement."

Fischer's 23 years of teaching in Baldwin will also end this May. She also said the timing felt right, although she will miss her co-workers and students.

"I've been thinking about it for a little while, but I could have retired last year," Fischer said. "I'm going to be 60 in September, so it will be a way to start that age. It just seemed like the right thing to do. I will miss the people that I work with immensely. I will also miss the kids a lot, too."

The final long-time employee that will be retiring is Honomichl, although her 22 years in Baldwin aren't minimal at all. Timing wasn't really an issue for her, because she will have more than enough KPERS points to retire. Her reasons were more family based.

"I needed to make sure that the retirement package gets me to a certain age so that other governmental efforts will kick in," Honomichl said. "I've not had any problems with having enough points, because you need 85 to retire with KPERS and I will have 97.

"Having a grandson come along has given me an opportunity for some other responsibilities as well as a grandmother," Honomichl said. "I've got my good health."

She went on to say that she will miss the interaction with the students and staff members. Honomichl will coach her final BHS team this spring when she leads the BHS softball team. She hopes this announcement won't add any pressure to the girls to succeed.

"I don't want to put any pressure on the team to send me out as a winner or anything like that," Honomichl said. "I found out a long time ago, there will be somebody after me just as there was somebody before me. We are going to get new uniforms and actually have a scoreboard that works. It might be a good way to finish up. I will miss it a lot."

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