Brandywine superintendent to retire at end of school year

Published 2:46 pm Thursday, January 27, 2022

NILES — Karen Weimer is ready for her next chapter.

The longtime Brandywine Community Schools superintendent recently announced her retirement effective June 30, after 34 years with the district. She was named superintendent in 2016.

BCS board president Dennis Hinsey said the board is still in the planning stages regarding Weimer’s replacement and that the board will be holding workshops to discuss the next steps and to possibly hire an outside firm to help find the next superintendent.

“34 years is a long time,” Weimer said. “My mom always said you’re going to know when it’s time to retire, and I know it. It’s not one thing, it just felt like the time.”

Weimer has been the district superintendent since 2017 after spending 18 years as principal at Merritt Elementary School. She taught fifth-grade at Brandywine Elementary for 11 years before that.

“My career has given me a different viewpoint for each position,” Weimer said. “When I was a building principal, I thought I knew a lot about the district since I had been here so long, but the superintendent sees the intricacies of the entire district. That was a learning experience, too.”

After overseeing the education of thousands of students during her time with Brandywine Community Schools, Weimer appreciates the pride the community has in its district.

“There is a lot of pride in this district because we’re a separate district from [Niles Community schools],” she said. “I was here when we did our last bond issue in 2007, and it passed two to one; they wanted to upgrade the building. By being a small district, we get to know kids and families well.”

Getting to know the students and families over the years has been a high point for Weimer.

“It was nice to have their trust,” she said. “They knew me from [my time as teacher and principal] and knew I was going to take care of their kids and do the best I could to educate them.”

The education landscape has changed significantly over the course of Weimer’s 34 years. She highlighted teacher/administrator accountability and school safety as two aspects of the job that have changed the most.

“There is more of an emphasis on state testing, which is used to evaluate teachers and administrators,” she said. “With school safety, we’ve always been concerned about it, but unfortunately, [the 1999 Columbine shooting] made us realize the need to change and keeps us moving forward with regards to school safety.”

In her time as superintendent, the district has seen the construction of new tennis courts and bleachers at the main high school gym as well as the completion of an auxiliary gym at the high school. She added that the district is in the process of completing the installation of air conditioning in every building by the summer.

Weimer also oversaw the creation of the district’s strategic plan in 2017, with the new strategic plan expected to be rolled out by the next school year.

While she looks forward to days of making her own schedule, Weimer will miss the students, teachers and staff she has grown accustomed to interacting with day in and day out.

“By being here this long, I’ve made good friends among staff,” she said. “I’ve known some families for 20-something years, so I’ll miss seeing them at different events. I like to be seen at events, and I want to support students, staff and faculty. It will be different not having evening activities a couple times a week.”