Prairie View board clerk passes torch to next generation

Updated: Jan 7

Rita Noel, left, long-time Prairie View USD 262 business manager and board clerk, retires as KyLee Capp takes over for the district. Noel's last day was Dec. 17. (Photo by Roger Sims, Linn County Journal)

Earlier this month, a change happened at the central offices of Prairie View USD 362. After serving 26 years as business manager and clerk for the board of education, Rita Noel stepped away from her role as money guru and into retirement on Dec. 17.

And a business manager and board clerk, KyLee Capp, stepped in to take her place. Both women had a career well grounded in finance before they took the job.

Noel worked for 12 years for Linn County Bank in La Cygne (which was eventually purchased by Labette Bank) before going to work with TeamBank in Paola for three years.

When her daughter Jill was in seventh grade at Prairie View Middle School, the high school secretary quit, and Noel decided to apply for that job. She was hired and in taking that job was thrust into one of the key roles in every school.

After a few years on the front lines of the high school, Noel learned that Board Clerk Joe Turpen planned to retire. (Turpen, who died earlier this month, served in the position for 25 years.)

After meeting with then Superintendent Ken Stanage, she thought she had the qualifications and experience to take over the post, and she was hired by the board to take the position.

One of the aspects of working for the district that she liked the best was that it allowed her more time to do what she likes most.

“I like being able to spend time with my family,” Noel said. “I’m very family oriented.”

The aspect that was most challenging to her was the having to keep up with the changes made by the Kansas Legislature. Those changes can be complex and difficult to apply to district operations.

One thing that Noel and Capp have in common, besides both being graduates of Prairie View High School, is a love for crunching numbers. Even though she has done it most of her career, she said she still likes working with numbers.

Capp has been training with Noel for the past few months, and Noel said her protege is ready to take over. “I want her to succeed, and I want the district to do well.”

After graduating from high school, Capp took classes at Fort Scott Community College. She went on to take online classes at Colorado Christian University and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Her on-the-job experience helped prepare her as well. She worked at First Option Bank in La Cygne for three years before going on to be in charge of payroll at the La Cygne Generating Station for three years.

In 2015, Capp, who has two children with her husband Tommy Capp, was hired as a paraeducator for the school psychologist, before being hired to be the school secretary at La Cygne Elementary School two years ago.

When she learned that Noel was going to retire, she applied and was hired.

“It’s my dream job that I’ve always wanted,” Capp said. However, she also said that landing the job required learning skills gained from previous jobs.

“It’s been a very long road, and I’m thankful for it,” she added.

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