The York Suburban School Board put on pointy party hats before unanimously voting Monday to accept the retirement agreement of district superintendent Kathryn "Kate" Orban.

Her retirement was effective at the close of business day Monday. She also wore a party hat as the board did its vote.

Orban received a standing ovation from the board and the audience after the vote.

During her meeting comments, Orban commended the district on how the staff, board and community pulled together to work through the district's fiscal challenges. She said the district staff is "unparalleled" in the things they do to ensure students' success.

"Once I made the decision (to retire), I didn't leave a lot of time ... I'm not one for long good-byes," said Orban, 63. "I'm going to miss this district desperately."

The board also gave Orban a plaque to recognize her work in the district since 2005, when she was initially hired as an assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. She became superintendent in 2007.

Orban was the fourth superintendent in the district's 50-year history. She replaced William Hartman Jr., who had retired.

Orban left a "profound impact" on the district by making improvements to the school's curriculum and overseeing the 2010 construction of Yorkshire Elementary School, the first school to be built in the district in more than 30 years, said Lynne Leopold-Sharp, the board's president.


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Acting superintendent: The York Suburban School Board appointed assistant superintendent Michele Merkle as acting superintendent until a new superintendent is hired.

The board will wait until early next year to determine its hiring process and timetable, as new school board members are scheduled to come on board, Leopold-Sharp said. An acting superintendent cannot serve more than one year, said board solicitor Phil Spare.

After Monday's meeting, Orban said her initial plans were to stay with the district until 2015, but she had a change of heart and informed the board of her retirement plans more than a week ago and chose to leave now.

"I want to spend time with my family," she said. "I've been involved in education a long time. I will do something with education in the future. I don't know what that would be. But first I want to relax, enjoy my family."

Orban, who holds a doctorate from Immaculata University in Chester County, has been in public education for more than 30 years.

"From the time I was a child, all I've ever wanted to do was teach," she said. "I would teach my younger siblings (for fun). Education allowed me to be first a teacher and (retire) a superintendent.

Orban began her education career as a music teacher in South Dakota. She moved to Lancaster County in the 1980s, spending more than 16 years in the Manheim Township School District, where she was a high school assistant principal and an elementary principal.

School board member Jennifer Clancy said she was among those who voted to hire Orban into the York Suburban School District.

"She has been a tireless worker for the district," Clancy said. "We hope for the best for her. I'll miss working with her."

Fellow board member Joel Sears called Orban a great leader.

"Having to go through a loss of this magnitude, it's a lot to deal with at this time," he said.

--Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at emcmillan@yorkdispatch.com.