Retired Employees Association News

The following updates were written and provided R.E.A. President Tom Kearney and Secretary Paula Slifer.


May 2016 Board Meeting Minutes

Congratulations to everyone in the Olathe Public Schools Retired Employees Association for a very successful “Championship Season!”

The last meeting of the board was held on May 25 and the news was good. Treasurer John Kieffer reported that the budget has a balance of $3,588.34 after paying out scholarships and a donation to the Back to School Outreach event in August. Membership Co-chairs Judy Rapp and Debbie Ramirez hosted a Mailing Party on June 15 to notify future members of the benefits of the organization. Volunteer Chair Doug Cox reported that the organization compiled over 10,000 hours of community service this year. It is estimated that one hour of volunteering is equal to $23 – you do the math! Thanks to all volunteers!

Paula Slifer will be the OPS/REA representative to the Olathe Public Schools Foundation board for next year. Terri Jarboe reported that the Women’s Giving Circle is looking to raise $10,000 for a grant in the fall and $15,000 in the spring. Legislative Co-chair Ernie Claudel briefed the board on issues before the Legislature as it convenes a special session on school finance. School district liaison reported that Pat All (a member of OPS/REA) will be the interim superintendent for 2016-17. In other district developments, Judy Rapp asked members to volunteer on Tuesday, Aug. 3 to pack info sacks for the 160 new educators.

The format for the new OPS/REA scholarship has been approved by the board and awaits approval by the membership. This grant would provide $500 for classified workers who seek a career in education. Also, the board considered a destination for its fall trip. The suggestion of Fort Scott in October was made and Tom Kearney will get in contact with Don Everhart.

Have a great summer and we will see you in the fall.

April 2016 Board Meeting Minutes

OPS/REA members took a "Victory Lap" on April 27. With tasty cupcakes served up by Social Committee Chair Texanna Ollenberger, members heard presentations from all five scholarship award winners. After a quick round of baseball trivia from Melinda Kearney, members heard songs from three of the Olathe's Got Talent performers. The silent auction was a hit with Stone Pillar season passes, two Les Arts Cullinaires dinners, autographed baseball from Ned Yost, and a Vivosmart from Garmin. Membership voted in officers for 2016-17: President – Tom Kearney, President-elect – vacant, Secretary – Paula Slifer, Treasurer – John Kieffer, At-large members – Betty Wike, Wendy Scholten, David Brewer, Melinda Kearney, Carol Wheeler and Connie Viebrock.

Afterwards, the board held a short meeting (while preparing treat bags for the new retirees). Minutes from the March 23 meeting, submitted by Secretary Paula Slifer, were approved. The treasurer's report from John Kieffer reported credits of $1,594 from the Texas Roadhouse fundraiser and an interest payment of $1.02. Debits were $744.15 (reimbursement for New Theatre ticket and payment to Texas Roadhouse). Our checkbook balance is $9,112.21. Thanks to our membership for contributing to the financial health of the organization!

Committee reports were submitted from the Care and Concern, Fundraising, and Social committees. Membership reported 141 members and will contact prospective members (some 130 retirees for this year) by mail in June. We had 7,474 total volunteer hours for our group this year. Our representative to the Olathe Public Schools Foundation, Marsha Stoker, reported that 94 grants were awarded in the district. Scholarship Chair Stephanie Royer received applause for her work (along with Raleen Cox, absent due to knee replacement surgery) in finding five very worthy recipients of the OPS/REA scholarship. Legislative Co-chair Ron Gardner reported (since Ernie Claudel was in Topeka) that the Legislature still is grappling with a budget and school funding. Heather Schoonover, district liaison, reported on the many changes for the district next year (including finding a new superintendent) and a continuation of the award-winning Back to School Outreach event on Aug. 6. Members may contribute money or time to this very worthy event.

In new business, board members heard a proposal for expanding the organization's scholarship to include classified employees who are seeking a degree in education. The program and application are patterned after existing scholarship programs through the OPS Foundation. Further consideration will occur at the May 25 board meeting.

March 2016 Board Meeting Minutes

Board members had quite a few “spring break” stories to tell – everything from Royals spring training to Hawaiian cruises to Mexico vacations! Maybe that’s why it took so long to get everyone settled down to business.

As usual, Secretary Paula Slifer’s minutes from the last meeting were approved. Our treasury is in excellent shape, according to Treasurer John Kieffer. The account stands at $8,259.34 for this year and our biggest fundraiser is still on the horizon. John suggested a pathway to invest organization funds more efficiently through the Olathe Public Schools Foundation. That suggestion will be discussed at future meetings.

Committee chairs offered their reports. Mary Cochran is on top of birthdays for all of our members. Terri Jarboe, reporting for fundraising, said that only 35 reservations had been taken for the Texas Roadhouse lunch/fundraiser. Members wanting to attend this great event should call Diane Gossage at the North Lindenwood Support Center, 780-7002, and reserve a place. Yes, you can pay $17 at the door. Texanna Ollenberger reported that cupcakes will be part of the “Victory Lap” celebration on April 27.

Membership Co-chairs Judy Rapp and Debbie Ramirez reported that the organization has 141 members. If you know of any Olathe retirees – teachers, administrators, classified staff, etc. – who would benefit from the group, let them know. We welcome new members. Volunteer Chair Doug Cox reported that members had earned 6,449 hours of volunteer service. As part of OPS/REA service, we received a letter of recognition from Cindy VonFeldt for our contributions to the Olathe Public Schools Foundation.

Stephanie Royer and Raleen Cox, co-chairs of the scholarship committee, presented the board with a delightful dilemma. In the past, OPS/REA has presented four scholarships to Olathe seniors who intend to major in education. Well, it seems that they found five deserving individuals. After discussion, the board decided to make a one-year exception and award five scholarships. This is possible thanks to our members and their contributions.

Ron Gardner presented an update from the Legislature and there is concern. The cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) for KPERS members probably will not be heard. Meanwhile, there is concern about the Legislature’s funding of KPERS and whether it will choose to postpone its scheduled contribution. As always, members are encouraged to contact their legislators and provide input. This is an election year and OPS/REA members need to be active.

This year has been called “Our Championship Season” for a variety of reasons. Of course, we have our World Series Champion KC Royals. We also have much to celebrate, athletically and academically, in our school district. One of our board members, Texanna Ollenberger, is a champion, too. Recently, she was named to the Hall of Fame for Kansas Music Educators and her name is to be placed on the Wall of Honor for the Olathe Public Schools Alumni Association. Congratulations!

Mark your calendar for our upcoming events. On April 4, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., we have lunch at Texas Roadhouse. On April 27, from 10:00 a.m. to noon, we have our “Victory Lap” celebration at the NLSC. We will meet our scholarship recipients, hear from “Olathe’s Got Talent” winners, bid on silent auction items, and play some great games. See you there.

February 2016 Board Meeting Minutes

So far, 2016 has lived up to our theme of "Our Championship Season!" At the latest board meeting, we received lots of good information about the health of our organization and even better information about its future.

After noting the condition of the treasury in years past, Treasurer John Kieffer reported that the group has $8,016.39 on hand for this year – a record! The Fundraising Co-chairs, Marsha Stoker and Terri Jarboe, reported that the "Grandma Layton" event was a smashing success. Many thanks to everyone who attended and brought tasty dishes for this potluck luncheon. The board voted to give "thank-you" gifts to previous presenters Donna McCarthy, Bob Courtney, and Brian Steele.

Our next big event is the April 4 lunch at Texas Roadhouse. Tickets for the lunch are $17 for a complete meal, and OPS/REA receives a $10 donation for each ticket sold. It runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and will feature a drawing for four tickets to see our World Series Champion KC Royals. If you want to participate you may donate $2 for one ticket or $5 for three tickets. The drawing will be held at 1:15 p.m. Many thanks to Diane Gossage who completed all the paperwork necessary to get this prize and, of course, to the Royals for being so generous.

Other committee reports included Volunteer Chairman Doug Cox reporting that the group has given 5,367 hours so far this year. If you are a member of OPS/REA and have completed volunteer hours, contact Doug and add to the total. The OPS/REA scholarships – four are given at $250 each for seniors majoring in education – have a due date of March 4. If you know of a future teacher who needs money for college, direct them to the Olathe Public Schools Foundation web page and complete an application for the scholarship.

The Legislative Committee Co-chairs, Ron Gardner and Ernie Claudel, reported on pending legislation in Topeka as it relates to retirees and education in Kansas. Members are encouraged to contact their elected representatives in Topeka to let them know you are concerned about the direction of legislation this session. The Olathe School District continues to work toward the future, especially the opening of the fifth high school. The district continues to grow (420 students in 2015-16 alone) and new ideas in teaching and learning are coming every day.

As to the future of OPS/REA, a call goes out to members who would be interested in serving on the board. Tom Kearney will continue as president for 2016-17, but a new president will need to be elected by the group at the April 27 "Victory Lap" celebration. Talk to Tom about the duties of the job – he will tell you that it is made much easier by his fellow board members. The Olathe district will see over 110 retirees this year and the Membership Co-chairs, Judy Rapp and Debbie Ramirez, are looking to contact each and every one. Information will be sent out over the summer about the organization along with an invitation to our first group meeting in September. If you know someone who is retiring, let them know how to join.

January 2016 Board Meeting Minutes

What are you going to do when you retire? If you are a member of OPS/REA, the answer is "A lot!" There are still activities for the rest of this year and we hope current and new members will join us.

The board met on Jan. 27 with a full agenda. Treasurer John Kieffer reported that the finances are in excellent shape with our checkbook balance at $7,876.39. The membership chairs, Debbie Ramirez and Judy Rapp, reported over 120 members of the organization – and with 110 retirees for the Olathe schools, we hope to increase our numbers! Volunteerism chair Doug Cox reported that our members have completed 5,202 hours of service so far this school year. If you have not reported your service hours, let Doug know. Melinda Kearney reported that the Olathe Public Schools Foundation has rewarded many teachers and staff members this year, but there is an issue with nominations. If you know of a deserving member of the Olathe district, go to the OPS Foundation page and nominate them. Scholarship chairs Stephanie Royer and Raleen Cox represented the group at the Jan. 26 scholarship might at the district tech center. They still seek applicants for the four $500 scholarships that are offered. If you know of a high school senior who wants to make a career in education, direct them to the district website and complete the application. There was board discussion about expanding the scholarship program to include current teachers or staff members.

President Tom Kearney attended the Community Organizations Breakfast to represent the group. As always, we are amazed at the many wonderful people who make up our community and the tremendous work they all do! Diane Gossage reported that Mahaffie House is hosting its 150th gala on Feb. 20 and tickets are still available. Legislative chair Ron Gardner reported on the Rally at the Capitol on Jan. 20 which was well-attended. The news from Topeka continues to concern our membership. The legislature is being asked to fund a Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) of graduated steps – so far, the measure is still alive. Ron encouraged all of us to contact our legislators on issues of school funding, KPERS, etc. This is very important, especially in this election year.

On Feb. 10, almost 30 people heard a presentation by Donna McCarthy about a local treasure – Elizabeth "Grandma" Layton. Donna presented the story of Grandma's life as well as examples of her art. Participants brought food for the group and it was excellent! Thanks to Marsha Stoker for her work on this fundraising activity.

Don't forget our next activity on April 4 – lunch at Texas Roadhouse. In addition to a sumptuous feast, there will be a raffle for four tickets to see our World Series Champion KC Royals! Hope to see you all there!

November 2015 Board Meeting Minutes

What an exciting fall this is. Members and non-members participated in two great events. The first was the annual fall trip, this time to Warm Springs Ranch, home of the famous Clydesdales. Thanks to the superb organizational efforts of Don Everhart, we got the royal tour of the facility including a look at Moose, the newest Clydesdale who was named after the third baseman of our World Series Champions the Kansas City Royals. We were treated to an excellent lunch at The Fred in downtown Boonville, Mo. Members enjoyed a bus tour of this historic town and a glimpse at the Mitchell Car Museum, featuring autos from the early part of the 20th century. Our final stop was the Russell Stover store.

On Nov. 11, the organization staged Breakfast with Bob Courtney of the Olathe Historical Society. Terri Jarboe prepared her secret recipe pancake mix and four chefs were at the ready. Texanna Ollenberger created strawberry and blueberry syrups to accompany the pancakes with whipped topping. (red, white and blue breakfast) Mr. Courtney showed the latest film from the Olathe Historical Society, "The Flying Jayhawks," which was the story of the Olathe Naval Air Station. As an added feature, he showed a short film about the founding churches in Olathe. All of these films are well researched and presented in an interesting format. The films are available for purchase.

Membership in OPS/REA continues to grow. Currently, there are 120 people in the group. If you know a person who worked in the Olathe School District in any capacity, let them know about the organization. Judy Rapp and Debbie Ramirez are our membership chairs and they welcome your participation. For the months of August and September members completed 2,918 hours of volunteering. The board reminds members of the Jan. 20, 2016 Rally at the Capitol activity to let our state legislators know about our concerns about issues confronting retirees. The Kansas Association for Retired School Personnel will continue to advocate a cost of living adjustment for members of KPERS.

September 2015 Board Meeting Minutes

What an opening day! Our first meeting of the 2015-16 year was an immense success! The room at NLSC was packed (had to set up extra tables) and the events were exciting. Texanna Ollenberger provided cookies in the shapes of soccer balls, baseballs, and footballs and every attendee got a box of Cracker Jack. Melinda Kearney hosted her own version of “What Do You Know?” and members won prizes for demonstrating their knowledge of “champions” of Olathe and Olathe Public Schools. And, thanks to the generosity of local merchants, the silent auction raised almost $500 for the OPS/REA scholarship fund. Marsha Stoker told the members about upcoming events and many of them reserved their places on the Oct. 29 fall trip to Booneville, Mo., Bunco Night (Oct. 13), and other events. There’s still time to sign up for the fall trip and the breakfast event with Olathe Historical Society luminary Bob Courtney.

At the board meeting after opening day, treasurer John Kieffer reported on the financial health of the organization. New memberships (thanks to Judy Rapp and Debbie Ramirez) have boosted the size of the organization. If you know of anyone who is a former member or would enjoy being a member get them signed up soon.

Volunteering chair Doug Cox reported that OPS/REA members have entered over 1,200 hours for the summer, and these continue to grow. Terri Jarboe reported on the Women’s Giving Circle that met on Oct. 22. This group gives a $10,000 grant to one deserving project.

Legislative committee co-chairs Ron Gardner and Ernie Claudel announced that Jan. 20 has been set for the Rally at the Capitol event. Last year, the organization sponsored a bus to take members to Topeka. We will need at least 72 people from this area, not just Olathe, to fill the bus. Let our voices be heard!

In new business, Debbie Ramirez informed the group that, due to outside considerations, she will be unable to serve as OPS/REA president next year. Tom Kearney will serve an additional term (2016-17) and members are encouraged to nominate leadership for the year after that.

The next board meeting is set for Oct. 28 at the NLSC. Then, of course, the next day we will board a bus for our fall trip to Boonville to see some magnificent horses and, according to travel coordinator Don Everhart, other stops along the way. Get your ticket now.

August 2015 Board Meeting Minutes

Calling all champions of Olathe schools! The board of the Olathe Public Schools Retired Employees Association is excited about the coming year – especially for "Opening Day" festivities scheduled for Sept. 23 at the NLSC, 10 a.m. to noon!

John Kieffer, treasurer, reports that the organization is in good financial health with $4052.01 in the bank. He will be "open for business" on Opening Day to accept new and renewal memberships.

What events are planned? A quick look at the website (, then Community and Retired Employees) will give a glance. We can provide greater detail at Opening Day (or you can look at the magnet you received with your invitation). Marsha Stoker and Terri Jarboe have worked very hard planning these events and we hope you can attend as many as possible.

Membership Committee chair Judy Rapp reported new memberships with the hope that Opening Day will bring many more. You don't have to be a member to participate in events – but it does keep you in the loop about the organization. With budget cuts affecting local schools, it is more important than ever for us to volunteer – keep Volunteer Committee chair Doug Cox informed as to your summer volunteer hours. Last year we had over 10,000 hours!

Our Olathe Public Schools Foundation liaisons, Marsha Stoker and Melinda Kearney, kept us up to date on award and grant recipients. A newer program, called "Fund-A-Need," ( provides smaller grants to teachers for specific projects. The Women's Giving Circle, according to member Terri Jarboe, will award a $10,000 grant for a proposal on Oct. 22.

At the Community Organizations Breakfast, Tom Kearney related that Dr. Marlin Berry, superintendent, spoke to the group. Upcoming events include Old Settlers' celebration, Sept. 10-12 and the War Birds flight Sept. 26-27, by the Commemorative Air Force at the New Century facility.

A legislative update from Ernie Claudel and Ron Gardner reported on the state of affairs regarding the state government and school finance. They encourage OPS/REA members to join Kansas Association of Retired School Personnel (KARSP) to keep up with issues affecting retirees.

Heather Schoonover brought a big "thank you" from the district for all the help with the Aug. 1 back-to-school event. There are 443 homeless students in Olathe schools this year.

Want to attend the OPS Foundation Annual Autumn Breakfast? The board authorized a subsidy of $10 (tickets cost $40) for any members who wish to attend. It promises to be a great event. Just notify Tom Kearney at

Did someone say "fall trip?" Don Everhart has arranged for the Oct. 29 excursion to Boonville, Mo., to meet the Clydesdales. Tickets will be available at Opening Day and includes some side trips for shopping and lunch.

There is so much more to share. Hope you can make it to Opening Day!

June 2015 Board Meeting Minutes

A very lengthy agenda faced the OPS/REA board for its June meeting and much was accomplished!

After the approval of the minutes of the May 27 meeting from Secretary Paula Slifer, Treasurer John Kieffer presented a very encouraging report on the financial health of the organization. In addition to his report, John presented a budget for 2015-16 and it was approved.

The first big announcement came from the Fundraising Committee. Terri Jarboe presented a list of suggested activities/fundraisers for the year. We are looking to start 2015-16 with a bang with a celebration of "Opening Day." The annual fall celebration will feature a sports theme with a silent auction (in celebration of Olathe champions). We hope to get Brian Steele to sing the National Anthem and the president will throw out the first "pitch" — to join OPS/REA! The annual Bunco Night will be Oct. 13. On Nov. 11, Veterans Day, Bob Courtney of the Olathe Historical Society will be showing the newest films about Olathe — remember that his films are award winners! We hope to make this a breakfast meeting (did someone say pancakes?). The Feb. 10 meeting will feature a presentation about the artistry of Grandma Layton. In April, we hold the Texas Roadhouse fundraiser and another silent auction. On April 27, we celebrate closing day. As always, MidAmerica Nazarene University will share proceeds from tickets sold to OPS/REA members for its November and March productions.

According to Membership Committee chair Judy Rapp, our organization continues to grow. Current members and past members will be getting emails to encourage them to join or re-join. If you know of a retired Olathe School District employee (administrator, teacher, staff) who is not part of the group, encourage them to join!

Debbie Ramirez attended the Community Organizations breakfast at the Catholic Charities facility. She reported all of the fine work of that organization, including a program to assist persons with payday loans. A very worthy endeavor! Our legislative reporters, Ron Gardner and Ernie Claudel, reported on the recently-concluded session of the Legislature. Their report was not optimistic as they concluded that the shortfall between revenue and expenditure experienced this year will be repeated next year.

The board voted to continue a practice started under Terri Jarboe. The foundation will subsidize individuals who wish to attend the OPS Foundation breakfast in October. Members who wish to attend can receive $10 toward the purchase of a $40 ticket. In addition, the board recommended that members sign up to help with the Back to School Outreach program. It's easy to apply online. Heather Schoonover of the district requested assistance in providing gifts for the new teachers in the fall. Contact her office and sign up. Remember to record your volunteer hours.

And now . . . where to go on our annual fall trip? Last year's excursion to Jamesport, Mo., was exciting. Possible trips were to the Shatto Milk Farm/Orchid Caves, Marysville, Kan.; Clydesdale Horse Farm in Boonville, Mo.; a US 36 Highway tour (various sites on the way). Tom Kearney had looked up a Kaw Valley Wine Trail. Let me know of any suggestions you have at

The next meeting of the board will be in August. Come back to this site for further information.

May 2015 Board Meeting Minutes

We are getting ready for the 2015-16 year for the Olathe Public Schools Retired Employees Association. One of the goals of the board for this year is to keep our membership better informed about group activities, board discussions, etc. Look for an update in this space after each meeting of the board. We are calling this year, "Our Championship Season," to celebrate the many successes of our schools and members. We welcome a new board member, David Brewer, who will serve in an at-large position.

After a successful 2014-15 year, under the leadership of President Terri Jarboe, the Treasurer John Kieffer reported a $6,497.99 balance in the checking account. Of course, this will be reduced immediately as we award our four scholarships to future teachers ($2,000).

  • Fundraising Committee will be co-headed by Marsha Stoker and Terri Jarboe. Terri commented on the success of the fundraisers for the year and that many of them will be continued for this year. Magnets will be generated for members to keep them informed of the various activities and fundraisers.
  • Social Committee chair, Texanna Ollenberger, reported that she is "waiting for marching orders" for 2015-16.
  • Judy Rapp and Debbie Ramirez of the Membership Committee reported nine new members. A focus of the committee will be to contact former members of the group to see if they wish to "opt-in" for this year.
  • Volunteer Committee chair Doug Cox reported that members served a total of 10,644 hours this year! Thanks to all members who volunteered and reported. If you volunteered, make sure to inform Doug to get the hours counted for the group.
  • Olathe Public Schools Foundation will welcome Marsha Stoker as a board member while Melinda Kearney will seek a committee post. The Foundation hosts a golf tournament on June 11.
  • The Scholarship Committee, headed by Stephanie Royer and Raleen Cox, praised the winners for this year. Future scholarship winners will be eligible for the award even if they attend out-of-state schools.
  • Lots of updates from the Community Organizations Breakfast, hosted at the Food Production Center on May 8. The Community Garden is FULL, numerous organizations awarded scholarships, and the Kiwanis Club offers U.S. flags for installation in your front yard!
  • Ron Gardner and Ernie Claudel gave a legislative update. As of this writing, the legislature still was debating taxes, budgets, spending cuts, etc. The OPS/REA Board encourages all members to keep in contact with their legislators (House and Senate) to assure them of our interest and concern.

We discussed the annual Fall Trip and will contact Don Everhart to see where it takes us!

The annual KARSP convention is in Hutchinson on June 10-11-12. I plan to attend and I hope you will too.

Our last order of board business was to thank outgoing president Terri Jarboe with a plaque. Cheryl Wilcox, our outgoing secretary, received a hibiscus plant for her garden.

Many thanks to Secretary Paula Slifer for compiling this information. Visit other pages on the "Retirees" site for additional information about your organization!