Two school districts that don’t have business managers are looking at potentially sharing one.
The superintendents of the Galway and Hadley-Luzerne central school districts perform the duties of a school business professional, while most larger districts have a certified business manager who handles budgets, reserve accounts and health insurance and prepares for labor negotiations.
Both of the small, rural districts would like to have a professional business manager handle their finances.
“Not all superintendents have a background in business,” said William Scott, interim superintendent for the Hadley-Luzerne schools. “Not all accountants are necessarily skilled in what it takes to be a school business manager.”
Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES Superintendent James P. Dexter is conducting a study about ways the districts could share a manager.
“The individual would spend either three days a week at Galway and two at Hadley or vice versa,” said Scott. Alternately, he said, the manager could work at the BOCES site on Henning Road in Saratoga Springs. “A lot of it today can be done electronically,” he explained.
The school boards for both districts met jointly with Dexter last week to discuss sharing services.
“Both boards of education discussed it and both supported going ahead with the study,” Scott said.
Scott said Hadley-Luzerne’s school business official left in February. Afterward, “We were very fortunate to be able to obtain an experienced retired business manager two days a week on our own.”
But the district wants to come up with a long-term solution that won’t require hiring someone full time. Other local districts pay their business professionals — many of whom hold the title of assistant superintendent or business director — well more than $100,000 a year.
Like Scott, Galway superintendent Kimberly LaBelle serves as her district’s business official. Galway has a treasurer who acts as the accountant for day-to-day finances, but the superintendent works on the larger financial issues.
That’s been the case at the district for 15 to 20 years, she said.
LaBelle doesn’t hold a finance background; many superintendents don’t. She said she took an “intensive” training course last year, and “I work on a daily basis with our treasurer.”
By contrast, school business officials typically are certified, either testing into the job with a Civil Service test or earning a college degree and certification.
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