Kari Monsees, who has led the Raymore-Peculiar School District since 2013, will retire at the end of the current school year.
After informing the school board and the leadership team earlier, the superintendent made his plans public at an all-staff convocation on Aug. 7. That annual meeting, held before the start of each academic year, is the only time that the entire staff gathers at once.
“The past six-plus years have been the most rewarding years of my educational career,” Monsees said. “I have truly been blessed to be a part of the Raymore-Peculiar School District, and I intend to transition from my current role in a manner that sets the next leader up for success. I am not certain about my plans in retirement, but I anticipate staying involved in public education in some supportive manner.”
He said he and his wife Laura intend to stay in the Ray-Pec area.
Monsees came to Ray-Pec from the Wentzville School District in Missouri, where he was chief financial officer and assistant superintendent. During his tenure, Ray-Pec enrollment has grown by nearly 400 students.
“He leads with fairness and integrity, and has worked hard to prepare the district for the future,” said School Board President Ruth Johnson. “When he came to Ray-Pec, he was known for his expertise in school finance, but he also has done so much in our community to strengthen relationships, communication and the spirit of collaboration.
“During every major project, he works to include the board, teachers and staff, and the community. We look forward to the work he will do this year on the long-range facility planning process. While we wish Dr. Monsees the best in retirement, we will miss his leadership.”
In a news release, the school district outlined several major initiatives that Monsees has led:
▪ Adoption of the district’s Long-Range Facility Plan in 2015 after a community discussion that involved input from more than 470 patrons and presentations to many groups. The plan recommended expanding the current high school building so that all high school students could attend class in the same place; converting the north high school building to a second middle school; changing grade configurations to the current K-5, 6-8,and 9-12 arrangement, and moving the Early Childhood programs to the Shull building. The plan will be updated during the coming school year.
▪ Passage of a $27 million bond issue in 2016 to address space needs. The bond issue did not require a tax increase.
▪ Six months of discussion and community planning leading to the approval of new attendance boundaries in December 2016.
▪ A process to update the district’s Strategic Plan in 2017, which focused on how to foster student success while being financially responsible.
▪ Passage of an operating levy increase in April 2018 that allowed the district to invest more in high-quality staff, student programs and services, and facility maintenance and upkeep.
Kim York was school board president when Monsees was hired and said at the time: “He has a wealth of experience, which will bring growth and prosperity to our district.” York, who still serves on the board, said that Monsees’ financial acumen and forward thinking made that expectation a reality.
The school board is expected to discuss the superintendent search process at its next meeting.