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  • Writer's pictureRoger Sims, Journal Staff

Laver to continue to support education as budget consultant

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

Relaxing in rocking chairs with more than 40 staff members looking over their shoulder, retiring Superintendent Travis Laver and retiring elementary school secretary Danita Snyder were feted during a party on May 12. (Photos by Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)

PLEASANTON – Travis Laver has made working for the Pleasanton USD 344 school district a lifetime career and labor of love.

While the retiring district superintendent will still have work to do before he hands his office over to incoming Superintendent Don Epps, on Monday he attended his last school board meeting as a district employee. When he walks out the door of the district central office for the last time in the next couple weeks, he will have worked for the district for 30 years.

“Meeting number 198 is complete for me, and I just want to take a moment and thank everyone again for the cards, gifts and well wishes on my retirement,” he said in an email sent to district staff on Tuesday. “Thirty years ago my plan was to stay here about three to four years and then look for a larger district to call home.

“I had two opportunities in 1997 when I was offered the technology director position in my hometown (Chanute), and a computer network engineer job the same year in industry. However, I turned them both down because of the friends and extended "family" that we had here in Pleasanton.

“As I reflect back, I have no regrets at all, and I am glad that I remained a Blu-Jay for my entire career. No career is as rewarding as a career in education! I encourage each of you to continue to build relationships with your peers that are deep, and continue the family atmosphere that we have here, as it is something very special.”

Retired school finance guru Dale Dennis, left, hands the microphone to Travis Laver during the retirement party last month. While he won't work for the state education department like Dennis, Laver will be a school finance guru to dozens of districts.

While he is retiring from his role as superintendent, he is not retiring from working in education. He has accepted a subcontractor position with Greenbush – The Southeast Kansas Education Service Center in Girard, Kan., where he will be assisting school districts in developing budgets and monitoring those budgets over the course of the school year.

So far, more than 60 districts have signed up for the service this year, and Greenbush is hosting a budget workshop on June 19 that will likely add more schools to that number.

Laver is already planning to take accrued vacation time over the next couple of weeks to get started on budgets.

Unlike last year when there was more time, all school districts, cities, counties and other local governments must notify the state by July 20 if they expect to exceed the revenue neutral status where they do not take in any more revenue than 2023.

“It’s going to be a busy time, for sure,” said Laver, who will continue to live in Pleasanton and work from home.

At his retirement party in May, Laver was toasted by Dale Dennis, the retired assistant director from the Kansas State Department of Education. Dennis was well known among Kansas school districts for his work in helping them with budgets. That kind of assistance has fallen by the wayside after Dennis’ retirement.

Laver considers Dennis a mentor, and his work for Greenbush will be very similar to the kind of support Dennis offered.

And while he will be extremely busy over the next couple months, he said he will not miss the stress of being a school superintendent.

He likened his job as superintendent to playing a game of Tetris on the computer, where he has been trying to take pieces and make everything fit. Regardless, he is satisfied with the work he has done for Pleasanton schools.

“We’ve tried our best to make learning fun,” he said about the district’s summer school now in full swing. The school has made the summer session more like a summer camp with plenty of activities, he added.

Business from Monday’s board meeting included:

• Approving the district handbook and STARS course updates.

• Approving Kansas Association of School Boards policy updates

• Determining that meal prices will remain the same for the 2023-24 year

• Hiring Brialee Lowe as the high school cheer coach

• Accepting the resignation of Kolbee McKee as baseball coach

• Hiring Jacob Crahan as technology director

• Accepting the resignation of Lewis Dunkeson

• Hiring Kyla Green as head junior high cheer coach

• Hiring Jylian Carpenter for high school assistant volleyball coach.

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