Manawa to lose two administrators
Oppor retiring, O’Brien resigning
By Holly Neumann
The Manawa School District will lose two members of their administrative team at the end of the 2022-23 school year.
District Administrator Melanie Oppor announced her retirement, while Business Manager Carmen O’Brien announced her resignation during the Dec. 19 school board meeting.
Oppor, who is a graduate of Little Wolf High School, has spent nine years as Manawa’s district administrator and 39 years in public education.
“I have always found education to be a calling and way of life,” she said. “It has been incredibly rewarding for me to be able to give back my time and talents to the district that got me off to a wonderful start in life.”
She feels that now is the time to take a more leisurely approach to life, enjoy spending more time with family and friends, and resume traveling more often to create new memories and adventures.
“It has been my humble honor and pleasure to bookend my successful educational career with the School District of Manawa,” Oppor said in a letter to the school board.
She will miss the students and staff the most.
“The School District of Manawa is blessed to have some of the most talented, devoted and generous staff I have ever had the pleasure with which to work,” she said. “Our students make me proud every day as they represent the very best our school community has to offer.”
O’Brien has been with the district for 26 years.
“I started in Manawa in 1997 as a biology and chemistry teacher,” she said. “I taught for 17 years until going into administration in 2014. I started as the curriculum director and then moved to my current position in 2017 as the business manager.”
She feels her biggest accomplishment was helping to pass two referenda in November 2018.
“Because of the referendum and a few other key decisions around that time, the School District of Manawa is currently stable, saving money in Fund 46 to prepare for the next round of building upgrades, and on track to pay off the referendum debt early,” she said. “I am proud of where I am leaving the district financially.”
She feels the timing is right for her to move on.
“I will miss the students the most and my one-mile drive to work,” she said. “I want to thank the community and School District of Manawa for allowing me the opportunity to learn and grow with them. I met my husband, had my children, and made the best friends of my life here. I never thought I would stay this long in Manawa, but I am glad I did.”
O’ Brien is moving on to the Wautoma Area School District to be their Chief Financial Officer.
Her advised the person who fills her position to be careful of overextending through staffing.
“Financially, when times are good, there can be a push to hire more people,” she said. “Financing public education is at the whim of the state legislators, though. A state budget can be passed that allows for easy local budgeting, then, in two years, it can all be taken away. You have to watch your trends and plan accordingly.”
The last day for both Oppor and O’ Brien will be June 30, 2023.