Ohio public school treasurers oversee multimillion-dollar budgets and — among other duties — make financial forecasts that can influence when property tax issues go before voters.
A recent Dayton Daily News survey found four of 14 responding school districts — Centerville, Huber Heights, Oakwood and Valley View — contract for a treasurer through the Shared Resource Center, an agency that offers a range of public sector financial services.
Survey results also showed Dayton, Fairborn, Franklin, Kettering, Mad River and West Carrollton school districts have all had deals with the SRC for other duties.
Oakwood school board President Todd Duwel said the Shared Resource Center’s treasurer services have “offered and expertly delivered a differentiated level of service and a business model unparalleled in the public sector.”
On the other hand, Fairborn school officials said district leadership keeps an in-house treasurer “because we want someone who has full ownership of the district and community. A person who can participate in other activities of the district, not just contracted financial services.”
A full-time treasurer is needed in Dayton Public Schools “due to the volume and amount of transactions processed” by the department, which oversees an annual budget of $562.3 million, according to that district’s response to the DDN survey.
Kettering has contracted with the SRC for years, but hired a full-time treasurer in December for the first time since 2014.
The SRC option “just seemed to work for a good number of years,” Kettering school board President Toby Henderson said.
Much of the decision to hire a full-time one, he added, “was based on the available candidates ... the SRC is staffed with a number of really good people. But from our district’s perspective, we ultimately saw it that the best candidate for our district was not an SRC-affiliated person.”
Kettering’s last agreement with the center called for $131,000 annually in compensation for those duties, district records show. It is paying new Treasurer Cary Furniss $172,000 for the first year of a deal running through July 2026, according to documents.
“Having a treasurer who is committed to our district for whatever time is necessary is certainly critical to us,” Henderson said.
The SRC’s contract with Huber Heights schools started June 1, 2021 and runs through this July, records show. The district plans to start a treasurer search this spring and hire one by next school year, board President Robert Mullins said in an email.
“Due to the timing of the departure and length of time required for a quality treasurer search, the board of education opted to use the (SRC) in the interim,” he said.
Huber’s deal involves payments of $10,650 a month while the previous treasurer’s annual salary was $129,183, district records show.
Local school boards are required to have a treasurer/CFO with a valid state license, according to the Ohio Revised Code.
The SRC contracts for these jobs can address “short-term needs to long-term needs,” said SRC Executive Director Tiffany Hiser.
“Sometimes it’s interim. And sometimes it’s ‘Get us to next year.’ And sometimes it’s ‘We love what you do. Just come in and be our treasurer,’ ” Hiser said.
Aside from Kettering, the Brookville and Valley View districts have also had contracts over several years, she said.
“Generally, it starts out that there’s a need. ‘We have this vacancy and we’re in kind of like a crisis’,” Hiser added.
The contract with Centerville schools is one such example, she said. That district began using the SRC after its treasurer, Mitch Biederman, died in 2019 after a bicycle accident.
Centerville is paying the center $143,250 annually in a deal that expires July 31, 2022, district records show.
The SRC has contracted with Oakwood schools since 2018, a year before Hiser was named its CFO, according to the district. This week she will become Oakwood’s interim treasurer.
The center is receiving $15,200 a month under a contract that runs through July 2022, Oakwood records show.
The SRC partnership with Oakwood started a few years after the center was created, the outgrowth of a need to fill a void that started with a contract with Valley View, Hiser said.
“At the time there was a real struggle to find qualified, experienced people to fill these district treasurer positions,” she said. “And that’s not changed. It’s probably been exacerbated. It’s just not a good market.”
While Kettering was able to hire a full-time treasurer, Henderson said that’s his understanding as well.
He said district officials were told the “the treasurers who would meet the requirements of a district our size — and what we thought was important as a board — that pool is pretty small.”