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Kari Monsees

A former area educator will assume a major role in the state’s educational system in June.  

Dr. Kari Monsees will become the Deputy Commissioner of Financial and Administrative Services for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) on June 30.

Monsees will take over following his retirement as Superintendent of the Raymore-Peculiar School District. Monsees announced his retirement in August.

According to a press release at that time, “he was undecided on his next venture. Upon hearing of the DESE opportunity, he was immediately drawn to the opportunity to take on a new role in the field of public education.

“The deputy commissioner position allows me to continue to work in support of public education, helping to make decisions and carry out initiatives to help provide quality education for all Missouri students,” Monsees said in the release. “I respect the important work the State Board, Commissioner (Margie) Vandeven and the entire staff at the department do in support of Missouri students and educators, and I look forward to being part of the team.” 

Monsees told the Democrat he is “really excited about my next challenge. One of my primary responsibilities is to oversee the administration of the state budget for public schools, which involves approximately $6 billion in state and federal funds.”

According to the release, two deputy commissioners work with the State Commissioner of Education to direct DESE and work as the administrative arm of the State Board of Education. The other deputy commissioner is over the Division of Learning Services.

Among other things, the Division of Financial and Administrative Services handles funding disbursements, audits, and manages DESE’s budget and the human resources department.

“With over 20 years of experience in Missouri public schools, Kari is well-respected across the state for his professionalism, his commitment to improving opportunities for students and his deep understanding of school finance and governance,” Vandeven said in a statement. “We are thrilled that he has agreed to bring his expertise to DESE and continue serving Missouri students.”

Monsees earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary education, master’s degree in secondary school administration and educational specialist degree in school district administration from the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg. He earned his doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Prior to his position at Ray-Pec, Monsees served as Chief Financial Officer in the Wentzville School District. He held administrator positions in the Warrensburg School District and the Moniteau County R-I School District. Monsees began his career as a teacher and athletic director in the Smithton R-VI School District.

A graduate of Smithton High School, Monsees credits the district for providing a quality education while he was a student there.  

“I have always believed the high-quality education I received at Smithton has helped me throughout my career,” Monsees told the Democrat. “(It is) hard to believe, but Smithton is close to median size among the 518 school districts in our state.

“My hope is that every student has at least the same educational opportunity that we experienced at Smithton,” he added. “Working at Smithton was also a great experience — in a small district I had the opportunity to work in a wide range of job duties that helped with my future administrative career.”

Monsees is a member of the Missouri Association of School Administrators and has served on the legislative committee for several years. He served as the Greater Kansas City School Administrators Association president in 2018-19 and was the region’s Pearce Award nominee that same year. Monsees was also selected as the Kansas City region’s new superintendent of the year in 2014-15. He has served several years on the board of directors and chairs of the legislative committee for the Missouri Association of School Business Officials. Monsees is a regular presenter at education conferences throughout the state where he is known for his expertise in school finance, according to the release. 

Since he was hired as superintendent in 2013 at Ray-Pec, “the district has experienced growth while earning high marks on the state annual performance report,” the release states. “Monsees guided the development of a long-range facility plan that led to a successful bond issue in 2016. He also worked with the Board of Education and community to develop a revised strategic plan in 2017, followed by the passage of an operating levy increase in 2018 to support important district priorities. Monsees has worked to expand learning opportunities for students throughout his tenure at Ray-Pec.”

Dr. Roger Dorson, current deputy commissioner of the Division of Financial and Administrative Services, announced his retirement earlier in 2019. He has agreed to stay on in the position through June.

Education Reporter

Hope Lecchi is the education reporter for the Democrat, covering all things education in Sedalia and Pettis County, as well as providing general assignment and feature coverage. She can be reached at 660-530-0144.

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