September 16, 2019

SAD 40 fine-tunes business manager duties

WARREN – SAD 40’s policy committee concurred Monday that the role of a district business manager should encompass not only finance, but transportation, food service, custodial services, building maintenance and grounds.

The committee fine-tuned a job description for a business manager, which should be ready for first reading at the Jan. 5 board meeting. If approved, it would move to a second reading and final vote Jan. 12.

SAD 40 comprises Warren, Waldoboro, Union, Friendship and Washington.

In recent years, the job of SAD 40’s business manager came under the title of director of operations, which included all of the responsibilities cited by the policy committee during its meeting. The financial piece of the job, however, was unofficially removed a few years ago by former Superintendent William Doughty, who chose to oversee money operations in the finance office.

In March, Doughty resigned from his post under pressure from the board and residents because he failed to disclose a $400,000 deficit in the previous year’s budget. Last month, Richard Lash, director of operations, resigned, saying he was a target of criticism over district operations. His resignation is effective Feb. 20.

Now, the district is rethinking the position in light of a recent state report that recommends the hiring of a “qualified” business manager.

After a state inspection of district operations in June, the district’s “approved” rating with the Department of Education was changed to a “provisional” status. In the state’s report, most of the problems cited were in finance.

The committee reviewed job descriptions for business managers in other districts, committee member Bonnie Micue of Warren said, and found that “SAD 5 [Rockland, South Thomaston and Owls Head] was the closest to what we wanted.”

“Do we need two people?” committee Chairman Wes Richardson of Warren asked. “As you know, I’m pitching for one.”

“I thought our goal was to separate it,” committee member Kathy Wockomurka of Waldoboro said. “It’s too big.”

“We need someone who knows the big picture and can delegate,” committee member Steve Nutter of Waldoboro said, agreeing that one person can handle more than just finances.

In addition to determining one person’s ability to fulfill multiple roles, the committee also discussed the need for employees directly subordinate to the business manager being well-qualified and the possibility of hiring supervisors in some areas.

Micue suggested finding a business manager who can determine those needs before hiring any new staff.

The “primary responsibility of the business manager shall be financial management for the school district to ensure that all accounts are maintained in a manner that accurately and currently show the financial condition of the district,” according to the committee’s draft.

The committee also wants the business manager to constantly keep abreast of its financial investments and management of cash flow and loan balances on a daily basis.

Besides maintaining an inventory of district real and personal property, the manager will also maintain and manage its insurance program and the purchasing of supplies and equipment.

“I want a bid on everything [over a certain dollar amount],” Richardson said. “Nothing goes by without a bid on it.”

The committee briefly debated whether the business manager should report to the superintendent or the board or both. The group settled on the superintendent being the direct supervisor of the business manager.

An evaluation of the business manager by the superintendent should be completed at least annually, the committee decided, and a synopsis of that assessment should be shared with the board.

A business manager’s qualifications should include a bachelor’s degree in business administration, finance or accounting, but a master’s degree in business administration is desirable.

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