RIPLEY - Robert Bentley recently announced that Superintendent Karen Krause will be retiring at the end of February.
Bentley, Ripley's board of education president, made the surprise announcement at the board's regular meeting, saying he had "mixed emotions."
"Everyone works a lifetime to get here and it's great you have the opportunity to enjoy it, but you will be missed," he said.
Krause has worked for 23 years in the Ripley school district. She started as an elementary teacher and through the years served in roles of administration, CSCE, director of special education and for the last four years as superintendent.
"It's time," Krause said. "The district has downsized and so it's a good time to make a change."
Krause said she has enjoyed her time in the district. "It's been my privilege to serve the Ripley community. I went to school here and raised my family here. That part will be sad, but it will be exciting to start a new chapter of my life."
Krause said her only plans right now are to spend more time with her grandchildren who live in various parts of the country.
Bentley also announced the retirement of Marie McCutcheon, who has served for 27 years as district clerk and secretary to the superintendent. Her position will be split up between staff members, he said.
Bentley said the board would hold an executive session after its meeting was concluded to determine the direction the district would take in hiring a new superintendent. The board will officially accept Krause's resignation at its November meeting, Bentley said.
In other business, the board approved a lease agreement with the town of Ripley for the use of space in the school. The town will pay the school $16,944 a year for five years, beginning Dec. 1, Krause said.
"It's a good deal for the town and it's a good deal for the people of the town and it's a good deal for the use of the building," she said.
After two or three years, the district will re-evaluate the cost of heating and light in regard to the lease, Krause said.
The town recently also approved the lease and will begin remodeling the space to use for its offices.
The board also heard a presentation from Wayne Rischell of Buffamante Whipple Buttafaro, P.C., which conducts the yearly external audit for the district. Rischell reported that the district received a "clean and unqualified opinion" from the firm regarding the management of its accounts and the process by which the district conducts its finances. This is the highest opinion the firm gives, he said, and means there are no recommendations for change.
"There are no problems with internal controls," he said. "We found nothing that we would recommend you change in your procedures. We commend you."
The only comment concerned the district's management of its fund balance, Rischell said. The state recommends that a district's unassigned fund balance account for no more than 4 percent of the proposed budget, but the district is at 8 percent, he said. However, this was on par with many other districts, he said.
"To sum up, the way you manage your money here is in good shape. What's being reported to the state is accurate," Rischell said. "We are really happy with the financial management we see here."