PLEASANTON – Pleasanton USD 344 Superintendent Travis Laver submitted his letter of retirement to the district board of education on Monday, Nov. 14. It was a month earlier than he had planned to do so.
“They were anticipating it next month,” he said in a phone interview on Tuesday. He said the reason to submit it earlier was because 11 superintendent positions have already come open across the state, and he wanted the board to have the best selection of candidates to choose from when hiring to replace him.
While Laver is the superintendent until the end of the school year on June 30, 2023, he said the board has asked him to stay on for a while to help the new superintendent learn about the district.
When he leaves, Laver will have been with the district 30 years, including 13 years as superintendent.
Initially hired as a music teacher, Laver used his interest in personal computers to add technology instruction to his resume. A few years later, he became the transportation director, then served as an interim principal for four or five years before becoming an assistant superintendent.
A graduate of Chanute High School, he attended Neosho County Community College before enrolling in Pittsburg State University with the goal of earning a bachelor’s degree in music education. After earning that degree, he earned another degree in music performance, followed by a master’s degree in music education.
Laver went on to earn a specialist’s degree in education administration and a master’s degree in the same field, stopping just short of getting his doctorate.
He credited the Pleasanton school district’s policy of reimbursing teachers for taking additional credit hours with helping him afford to take the additional education courses. And, of course, with more education – at least for teachers – came a higher salary.
Securing more than $5 million in grant money for the district as superintendent is one of the accomplishments he takes great pride in. However, recently putting together the donations and financing for the STARS program, is a project into which he put considerable time and effort.
He said that finding those additional sources of income were crucial in helping a small school district with a low real estate valuation meet the needs of its students.
Two of the hardest things he has had to deal with as a superintendent was the increasing amount of paper work necessary for the state and trying to devise a plan to address the COVID pandemic.
“It’s unbelievable the amount of paperwork we have to do,” he said. Because of that increasing burden, he hasn’t been able to interact with students in the district. “I used to be able to get into the classroom more but I just can’t do it now.
How to react to the COVID pandemic also was also a very draining prospect for superintendents. Making a decision on COVID protocol often meant half of the district parents and teachers were in favor of it, the other half were not happy with the decision.
The other problem with the COVID pandemic was the drop in achievement of students as school doors were ordered closed or learning moved online.
He said just now, nearly three years after COVID began, students are recovering from the learning gap that came about because of COVID.
Laver said that the most remarkable thing about his career is that he has worked in the same district throughout his career. He said there is a sense of satisfaction seeing the children of his former students now working up through the grades.
He also said one of the other pluses of his career has been getting to know people in the district.
Laver said he doesn’t expect to be leaving Pleasanton any time soon. His wife, Julie Laver, an art teacher for the district, has another two years’ of teaching before she retires.
The retiring superintendent doesn’t plan on walking away from working altogether in his retirement. He said he has already been contacted by several people who are looking to tap into his expertise.
“I’m going to do something else,” he said, adding that he was planning on slowing down from the fast pace he has had to maintain over the last few years.