Retired Employees Association News

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


August 2017 Board Meeting Minutes

What a year we have planned for OPS/REA! President John Kieffer heads up the board and, with the help of fellow board members, has outlined several events for the 2017-18 year.

Hold onto your hats! Our first event was held Sept. 6 – a festive “romp” through the history of hats from Ancient Greece to today. For $10, members were enlightened about “friggin” hats (ask someone who attended) to cowboy hats to fedoras. By looking at these hats, we learned part of the history of the world.

More big news! Don Everhart has created a wonderful fall trip for the group. Destination: Abilene. Traveling on a luxury coach (which leaves at 6:45 a.m.) on Oct. 26, there will be a tour of the Eisenhower Presidential Library, lunch (at your own expense), and, of course, time for shopping. Total cost for the trip is $48. Travelers should reserve a spot by Oct. 19.

On the legislative front, Legislative Committee co-chair Ernie Claudel reported that KPERS issues continue to be addressed by concerned retirees. Members are encouraged to keep lines of communication open between themselves and their legislators.

Opportunities for involvement include the Olathe Public Schools Foundation breakfast on Oct. 6 at the Embassy Suites Convention Center at 7:00 a.m. Tickets are going fast and will help fund the good programs of the foundation. Also, the Olathe Women’s Giving Circle will meet on Oct. 24 at Shadow Glen.

We have a budget! At the board meeting on Aug. 23, the budget was finalized. OPS/REA has changed its scholarship program. For this year, the group will award two $1,000 scholarships to graduating seniors who intend to seek a career in education. Also to be awarded will be a $500 scholarship to a classified employee seeking a career in education. The budget for the year was increased from $4,950 to $5,350 to address increased costs.

Hope to see all retirees at the Sept. 27 event where we will celebrate super heroes with friendship, games, prizes, and who knows what else! See you there!

May 2017 Board Meeting Minutes

Lots of firsts and lasts to report. It was the last board meeting for the 2016-17 year and the first for some board members. After introductions all around, President John Kieffer got the meeting started.

Minutes by Secretary Paula Slifer from the last board meeting were approved. The treasurer's report, the first from Treasurer Connie Viebrock, showed a balance of $6,886.89. There followed a discussion of the budget for 2017-18. The board voted to contribute $500 to the Back to School Outreach program and the scholarship contribution by the organization to the Olathe Public Schools Foundation was raised to $3,000.

Marsha Stoker, our energetic Fundraising chair, listed the events for the next year.

  • Sept. 6 – History of Hats
  • Oct. 12 – Bunco
  • Jan. 29 – Kansas Day with Bob Courtney
  • March 9 – Cooking with Christina
  • April 2 – Lunch at Texas Roadhouse

In legislative news, Ernie Claudel reported his election to the KPERS board. The legislature, which was still in session during the board meeting, passed a law simplifying rules for working after retirement. Unfortunately, the legislature did not address funding for KPERS. Judy Rapp and Debbie Ramirez reported that 116 retirees received information about the organization at the district retirement dinner. Recruitment information will be sent to prospective members.

From the Scholarship committee, Stephanie Royer and Raleen Cox reported that the scholarship for classified employees will be available for the 2017-18 year. Volunteering chair Doug Cox reported 12,136 hours served. The report from Community Organizations chair Diane Gossage (a new retiree) was to remind members to save unused (and unopened) bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and lotion from summer vacation hotel stays to be donated.

Tom Kearney reported that items of memorabilia are requested for display in the Millcreek Campus when it opens in December 2017. Anything from John P. St. John High School, Olathe Junior High School, Millbrooke Junior High School, or the Vocational Center will tell the story of this building.

President Kieffer solicited ideas for themes for 2017-18. "Heroes" was a popular choice. As to the fall trip, ideas included Sedalia, Abilene, and Atchison. If you have ideas for a theme or a trip, let John know at

The next board meeting will be Aug. 23 at the NLSC. Have a great summer!

March 2017 Board Meeting Minutes

Spring is here! Across the district, students, teachers, administrators are all working toward the end of another successful school year. OPS/REA is working toward that same goal.

At the board meeting on March 22, a variety of topics were addressed. After approval of minutes by Secretary Paula Slifer, the report from Treasurer John Kieffer reported cash on hand of $5,846.30. Mary Cochran of Care and Concern reported the birthdays, condolences, and get-wells. Marsha Stoker, Fundraising chair, reported on the overwhelming success of the "Cooking with Christina" event. Members can look forward to the April 3 fundraiser at Texas Roadhouse and the "End of the Trail" celebration on April 26. In addition to hearing from the four scholarship winners, we will have a presentation by Jack Wilson called "Lavender with Jack." Texanna Ollenberger, Social Committee chair, reported that lavender treats will be available at that event.

Paula Slifer, OPS/REA board rep to the Olathe Public Schools Foundation, reminded us of the golf tournament fundraiser on June 8 at Prairie Highlands and Women's Giving Circle on April 27. Doug Cox, Volunteer chair, reported the group has a total of 9,246 hours for this year.

The four OPS/REA scholarship winners are:

  • Lindsey Hart, Olathe East High School, music education major
  • Abbey Heller, Olathe Northwest High School
  • Tayler Loudermill, Olathe South High School, history education major
  • Andie Dain, Olathe Northwest High School

Legislative chair Ernie Claudel reported on the very active Kansas Legislature. In addition to the task of rewriting the school finance formula, the Legislature also must address funding for Kansas Public Employee Retirement System and a COLA.

In old business, the Nominating Committee reported its findings and will set forth officer candidates at the April 26 "End of the Trail" event. In new business, the board voted to create an associate membership for the organization (e.g. a person who is retired from education but may not have worked for Olathe). The board also voted to recognize the contributions of Ron Gardner in the legislative field.

Hope to see you all on April 26!

February 2017 Board Meeting Minutes

So far, so good for the Olathe Public Schools Retired Employees Association in 2017! Still lots of events to come and opportunities for members.

Treasurer John Kieffer reported a healthy treasury at $6,393.66. The board approved an appropriation of $500 toward the annual retirement dinner. Diane Gossage reported over 100 retirees! Mary Cochran, chair of the Care and Concern Committee, reported that cards were sent for birthdays and illnesses. Marsha Stoker, chair of the Fundraising Committee, informed the board of the March 10 event, "Cooking with Christina," with 22 members scheduled to attend. Don't forget the April 3 event at Texas Roadhouse from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and it only costs $17 for a great steak lunch!

Doug Cox, Volunteer Committee chair, reported a record 8,250 hours of volunteering by OPS/REA members! Thank you for your work! Paula Slifer, board liaison to the Olathe Public Schools Foundation, reported great success with the Major Saver's Campaign. The foundation's annual golf tournament will be held on June 8.

Scholarship Committee co-chairs Raleen Cox and Stephanie Royer reported that only two seniors had applied for the OPS/REA scholarship. If you know of an Olathe senior contemplating a career in education, have them apply for the scholarship. The form is on the foundation website. The newest OPS/REA scholarship is available for classified personnel. If you know a classified employee who wants to pursue a career in education, that scholarship deadline has been moved to May 1.

News from Legislative co-chair Ernie Claudel included information about a requested COLA for KPERS beneficiaries and an attempt by the Legislature to postpone its required payments to the fund. Members are encouraged to contact their state senators and representatives to maintain the state's commitment to its retired employees.

Under old business was the board's recommendation for retaining the name John P. St. John for the new district facility. The Olathe Historical Society has joined in this recommendation and Dr. Pat All, interim superintendent, said she would place it before the board. In new business, planning has begun for the spring event, "End of the Trail," on April 26 at the NLSC.

A Nominating Committee will meet March 20 to suggest candidates for office for the 2017-18 season. If you are interested in serving as an officer or at-large member, contact Tom Kearney at

January 2017 Board Meeting Minutes

Welcome to 2017! The board of OPS/REA anticipates a rewarding year for all its retirees.

The minutes from our last meeting, respectfully submitted by Secretary Paula Slifer, were approved as amended. Our treasury, according to Treasurer John Kieffer, is healthy with a balance of $6,396.35.

Marsha Stoker reported on the upcoming event/fundraiser "Cooking with Christina" (Robson) to be held on March 10. Attendance is limited to 20 and 15 have reserved places. Judy Rapp and Debbie Ramirez, Membership co-chairs, announced seven new members for OPS/REA and one new Kansas Association of Retired School Personnel (KARSP) member. Our membership total is 117. Doug Cox, Volunteerism chair, reported that the organization has accumulated 7,117 hours of community service. Keep those hours coming in!

Paula Slifer, board representative to the OPS Foundation, reported an upcoming fundraiser for that organization – Major Saver cards. Fund-a-Need continues to seek contributions and nominations for the E2 award are wanted. Scholarship co-chairs Raleen Cox and Stephanie Royer have notified counselors at the high schools to publicize the OPS/REA scholarship. Diane Gossage, soon to join the ranks of the retired, encouraged board members and OPS/REA members to attend Olathe's Got Talent on April 29.

The Rally at the Capitol event will be Feb. 6 and OPS/REA members will be in attendance. We encourage our state legislature to fully fund KPERS. Ernie Claudel, Legislative co-chair, reported on a variety of issues before the state. Members are encouraged to keep an eye on this legislative session. School funding and KPERS funding (especially the $1 billion loan with 8 percent interest) and a COLA for retirees are on the agenda.

Thanks to the action of the board and an overwhelming positive vote of the membership, the OPS/REA Tomorrow's Educators scholarship has been approved and should be on the district's website. This award goes to classified personnel who are seeking a career in education. Principals will provide information for this program to their classified employees.

In new business, the board considered ways to attract new members and reward current members. Among the ideas were: increasing communication among members, establishing a "rewards" program (with the cooperation of the Olathe Chamber of Commerce and local businesses), creating preferential rates at events for members, establishing a program of "associate" membership, and other ideas. Judi Rapp suggested that an update of the logo for the organization was needed.

Finally, the board authorized President Tom Kearney to recommend that the new district offices, to be housed in the former John P. St. John High School, retain the St. John name. The Olathe Historical Society and the Olathe Alumni Association also will be encouraged in this endeavor.

December 2016 Board Meeting Minutes

The November elections are over but there is an important vote for all OPS/REA members. Check your email for a missive from Diane Gossage concerning our newest scholarship. The “Tomorrow’s Educators Scholarship” is a $500 award for classified employees in the Olathe district! Full details are included in the email and we need your vote. If approved, the scholarship will be advertised through the district and awarded in the spring.

At the OPS/REA board meeting for November, the big item on the agenda was the new scholarship. Thanks to the guidance from Olathe Public Schools Foundation Executive Director Cindy VonFeldt, the scholarship went from idea to proposal. Voting will end Dec. 9. Treasurer John Kieffer reported on the financial health of the organization with $6,296.77 cash on hand. According to Membership Committee co-chairs Judi Rapp and Debbie Ramirez, we have 110 members. Doug Cox, Volunteer Committee chair, reported 1,150 hours for October and a total of 3,842 so far this year. Paula Slifer, the board’s representative to the foundation, encouraged members to consult the website for opportunities to contribute to a variety of projects for Olathe professionals.

President Tom Kearney represented the group at the November Community Organizations breakfast at the Culinary Arts academy at Olathe North High School. Leaders of service organizations across the city provided updates of their activities. So much good is going on in our city! Ernie Claudel, Legislative Committee co-chair, reported on the results of the general election and announced that the Rally at the Capitol event will be held Feb. 6, 2017. Members are encouraged to participate at this event and contact their legislators throughout the legislative session.

November 2016 Board Meeting Minutes

So much has happened since the last update for OPS/REA!

First, a few words about our Fall Trip to Fort Scott, Kan. Thanks to the organizational wizardry by Don Everhart, our group arrived in the city to a welcome at the Chamber of Commerce welcome center. A short walk later, we beheld a true marvel: the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes It features, as the name implies, people who do not receive recognition in history. For instance, we learned the story of Irena Sendler, of the book, Life in a Jar, who rescued 2,500 people from the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust. We also learned that this story was discovered by three high school girls working on a History Day project at Uniontown (Kan.) High School. This was just one of the stories in the center – it truly was a fascinating part of the trip. After a tour of the city of Fort Scott, with its many historic homes (made of that famous Fort Scott brick) we had lunch at Nate's Place. A gorgeous fall day beckoned our visit to the historic fort from which Fort Scott gets its name. It was topped off with a short trip to an elk ranch. Just a great day!

Our Nov. 3 event featured Bob Courtney of the Olathe Historical Society as the "Earl of Olathe" on National Sandwich Day. Lunch consisted of a huge sub sandwich, chips, and snickerdoodle cookies baked by Social Committee Chair Texanna Ollenberger. Mr. Courtney showed a recent OHS film about Chief Blackbob and presented information about the Jefferson Highway – which predates the numbered U.S. and interstates of today. Of course it ran through Olathe!

At the October OPS/REA board meeting, Treasurer John Kieffer reported a healthy treasury of $6,636.54. The minutes of the previous board meeting were approved (thanks, Secretary Paula Slifer) and Fundraising Chair Marsha Stoker reported raising over $600 at October's Bunco Night. Membership Chair Judy Rapp reported a current OPS/REA membership of 106. Doug Cox, Volunteer Committee chair, reported that members contributed 2,118 hours over the summer and 574 for the month of September. Paula Slifer, OPS/REA representative to the Olathe Public Schools Foundation, reported that 780 people attended the recent foundation breakfast.

Scholarship Committee Co-chairs Stephanie Royer and Raleen Cox will be sending reminders to schools about the OPS/REA scholarship. At the recent Community Organizations Breakfast, we received information about the Mayor's Christmas Tree Fund for this year and its goal of raising $155,000. Legislative Co-chair Ernie Claudel encouraged members to vote for pro-education candidates in the general election.

There is big news about the proposed OPS/REA scholarship for classified employees pursuing a degree in education. Cindy VonFeldt reviewed and edited the proposal and, after an email vote by the membership, will place it among the other scholarships offered by the foundation. The scholarship will be awarded in spring 2017. In other scholarship news, the Leon and Gretchen Brewer Scholarship will be limited to persons majoring in education.

The final item of business was recruitment – how do we make membership in OPS/REA more attractive to more retirees? Many suggestions were offered and a committee will consider these at a future date. How do you think this should happen? If you have a suggestion, send it to

To all OPS/REA members and all retirees, we hope you have a great holiday season!

September 2016 Board Meeting Minutes

So, what are you going to do when you retire? If you are a member of OPS/REA, the answer is "Everything!"

On Sept. 21, we held our opening meeting called "Hit the Trail" to coincide with our theme of "A New Frontier." The décor emphasized transportation – for which Olathe historically has been a hub. From covered wagons to railroads to automobiles to airplanes, Olathe has seen it all. Table decorations included a boot, a horse, and a space shuttle (piñatas, of course) as well as model trains. We even had a state trooper to keep order among these retirees (thanks to Diane Gossage). Generous Olathe merchants donated some great door prizes including car washes, tickets to the Kansas City Automotive Museum, tickets to Wild West Days at Mahaffie House, and a family pass to the Commemorative Air Force's Air Show. Marsha Stoker gave a rundown of events for the year. Don Everhart described the fall trip to Fort Scott (including a drawing for wine), and Cindy Hayes of Kansas Association of Retired School Personnel informed members of benefits available through this group. An item of organization business: John Kieffer was elected president-elect and will serve as president for 2017-18.

This was followed by a brief meeting of the board. After the approval of the minutes by Secretary Paula Slifer, our Treasurer John Kieffer reported a healthy account of $4,612.59 in available cash. Social Committee Chair Texanna Ollenberger, recently honored by the Olathe Alumni Association, is preparing for the "Earl of Sandwich Day" event for Nov. 3. Volunteer Chair Doug Cox reported that our group contributed over 22,000 hours of volunteer work over the past year. The new count started in August. Stephanie Royer and Raleen Cox, Scholarship co-chairs, represented the group at Scholarship Night and there was a good turnout – although fewer kids were going into the field of education. Legislative Chair Ernie Claudel emphasized that members need to vote on Election Day, Nov. 8. The board continues to refine the proposal for a scholarship for classified employees seeking a degree in education.

Our first fundraiser was Bunco Night on Oct. 11. Attendees had a great time and raised $624.00 for the scholarship fund. We are looking forward to the fall trip to Fort Scott including a visit to the Museum of the Unsung Hero, tour of the city, shopping (of course), lunch, and a trip to an elk ranch in Neosho, Mo. We leave from the Center of Grace parking lot at 7:45 a.m. and return at 5:15 p.m. Tickets are still available. Contact Diane Gossage at 780-8182 or e-mail at

Also, place Nov. 3 on your calendar for the OPS/REA "Earl of Sandwich Day" event. Bob Courtney of the Olathe Historical Society will present films from his group. The price is $12.00 and starts at 11:30 a.m. Hope to see you there!

August 2016 Board Meeting Minutes

As the students went back to school, the OPS/REA board began its year at its monthly board meeting. We have a lot of events planned for the upcoming year and hope you can participate in all of them.

Our theme for this year is “A New Frontier.” It’s a way of looking at retirement – after a long and rewarding career, we all have set out on a new journey in life. Much like the frontiers represented in the various historical transportation sites in this area, we are able to explore!

After approval of the board minutes from May 25 (thanks to Secretary Paula Slifer) and the treasurer’s report (we have $3,705.59, according to Treasurer John Kieffer), the board heard committee reports. Mary Cochran reported for the Care and Concern committee, Texanna Ollenberger reported for the Social committee, and Judy Rapp reported 11 new members from the Membership committee. Doug Cox, chair of the Volunteer committee, reflected on over 10,000 hours of volunteering by OPS/REA members last year and looks forward to even more. Paula Slifer will be the OPS/REA representative to the Olathe Public Schools Foundation and participate in monthly “Surprise Squad” activities in the district. The Scholarship committee, co-chaired by Stephanie Royer and Raleen Cox, is ready for another year. Legislative co-chairs Ernie Claudel and Ron Gardner reported on the results of the August primaries and encouraged members to exercise their right to vote in November.

Marsha Stoker and Terri Jarboe, co-chairs of the Fundraising committee, announced the events for 2016-17:

  • Sept. 21 – “Hit the Trail” event at NLSC, 10:00 a.m.-noon; renew  acquaintances and win door prizes
  • Oct. 11 – Bunco fundraiser at NLSC, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
  • Nov. 3 – “Earl of Sandwich” event with Bob Courtney, Olathe Historical Society, NLSC, 11:30 a.m.
  • March 10 – “Cooking with Christina,” making scones with Christina Robson, NLSC, 9:30 a.m.
  • April 3 – Texas Roadhouse fundraiser, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
  • April 26 – “End of the Trail” lavender farming presentation, NLSC, 10:00 a.m.-noon

Although not a fundraiser, the annual fall trip will be to Fort Scott, Kan., and Nevada, Mo. A new museum for the unsung hero has just opened in Fort Scott and has received many positive reviews. Don Everhart will present information about the trip at the “Hit the Trail” event.

In old business, President Tom Kearney renewed his request for nominees to serve as OPS/REA president for 2017-18. The committee will meet and discuss prospective candidates. The proposal for the new scholarship for district classified employees will be approved by the OPSF and submitted for membership approval at the Sept. 21 meeting.

In new business, the board discussed activities for the opening event which will include a presentation of the theme, remarks by OPS/REA member (and current interim superintendent) Dr. Pat All, games, and door prizes. The board will seek input from membership concerning a possible spring tour of Kansas City.