'I've worked with the best of the best'
By JUDY SHERARD
Sandra Bainter was so impressed with the Hays High School staff when she enrolled her daughter, she went to work for the school district.
Bainter was hired in the Hays USD 489 payroll department in 1988 to process medical expense and dependent care reimbursement claims. She retired this month.
"I'll never forget how excited I was when Jean Ross, the assistant superintendent of business, called to offer me the job," Bainter said.
Bainter became clerk of the USD 489 Board of Education in January 2000, succeeding Marita Kohlasch, who died in December 1999.
Superintendent Will Roth said Bainter "does an exceptional job."
Bainter will be replaced by Cheryl Shubert, district treasurer/accounts payable since 2007, when the new year begins.
As board clerk, Bainter maintained district records and kept minutes of board meetings. Her favorite board meetings were those when teachers and students were recognized for achievements.
"My greatest reward was to take good care of the board," she said. "I would hope I accomplished that."
Board President Darren Schumacher presented Bainter with a distinguished service award at the December board meeting in appreciation for "24 years of outstanding service and dedication to the Hays public schools."
Besides being board clerk, she also served as director of accounting, overseeing district funds.
"The budget is a big part of my job," Bainter said.
She also was the district's Kansas Public Employees Retirement System agent, which meant completing workers' compensation claims and answering retirement questions.
Staff members relied on Bainter's help and knowledge, Roth said.
"It takes time to build that trust," he said.
"The bottom line is no matter what we do in the school district, it's still about the kids," Bainter said. "If I can make a day go easier for a teacher, helping them with the business part of their lives -- free them so they can enjoy their time with the student, then I know I've done my job well."
She's seen not only technology changes, but changes in administrators through the years -- Roth succeeding Fred Kaufman as superintendent, and Richard Cain replacing Ross as assistant superintendent.
Each time, the transition went smoothly, she said.
Bainter also served as secretary of the USD 489 Foundation for Educational Excellence and enjoyed being able to help families in need.
While her career at the district has been satifying, she's looking forward to retirement.
"The things that really matter in life are family and friends," Bainter said. "I'm looking forward to having more time to enjoy both when I retire."
Her family includes husband Bob, three children, Tammy, Kimberly and Daren, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
"I've been very blessed in my career here at USD 489. I've worked with the best of the best. ... I don't know how anybody could want more than that."