By Sue Kiesewetter
WEST CHESTER TWP. - Kathleen Klink's leadership of Lakota Schools is coming to an end - but not until after two more school years.
The Lakota Board of Education on Monday voted to accept Klink's retirement as superintendent and then rehired her as superintendent at a lower salary, giving her a two-year contract that begins Aug. 1 and runs through July 31, 2005. Her existing contract - which will be voided by her retirement this July 31 - didn't expire until July 31, 2006.
"I do want to have the opportunity to do other things,'' said Klink, 60, who became superintendent in 1994 and has led the fast-growing district to statewide prominence. Lakota was the only one of Ohio's 10 largest school districts to achieve the state's "excellent" rating on this year's report card. "But I want to finish initiatives we've already started.''
Ohio law stipulates that once a person retires from a school district, he must wait 60 days before beginning a new job in any Ohio school district or forfeit his retirement pay. Klink will forego her retirement pay during the 60 days.
"There will be a seamless transition, nothing will change,'' Klink said.
Under the new contract, Klink will earn $102,500 annually, a decrease of $19,000 from her current salary of $121,500. She will not get health or dental benefits from the district - those will come from the state retirement system - but she would be eligible to receive a bonus if she meets certain goals.
Board members said Klink's retirement salary would approach what she makes now, but they did not have specific figures.
"None of the retirement (pay or benefits) will come from the district,'' said Joan Powell, school board president.
Powell said the board asked Klink to stay after she told them of her intent to retire.
"We have a lot of things going on now, and we wanted to insure our leadership during a critical period. It didn't seem like the right move to change leaders if she was amenable to staying,'' Powell said.
"We expect a lot of transition readiness from Mrs. Klink over the next two years so we'll be in an excellent position to change leadership in two years. This period gives us time to do a complete search for her replacement.''
Klink said she plans to focus on several initiatives already under way including:
Completion of the strategic plan
Development of a facilities plan for the year 2010-2011 that could include a third high school.
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