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Jeannette hires Intermediate Unit for district's business manager role

| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 6:48 p.m.

The Jeannette School Board has filled the opening for its business manager position last week. The position has been open since March 1.

For now, the district employs interim manager, Brent Filak, on a contractual basis.

Filak serves as interim manager for the Mt. Pleasant School District, as well.

“We approached Brett Filak in order to get by in the short term, while looking at potential candidates for the position,” said Jeannette Superintendent Matthew Hutcheson.

“He offered his services to us and that bought us time. It was great to have someone to help us out.”

After holding its final round of interviews during the meeting, the school board voted to use the Intermediate Unit for payroll and all other business objectives, filling the business manager role beginning this summer.

“Their presentation was much more impressive than what we saw previously,” said Hutcheson.

“Their first and biggest plan is to produce a budget procedure manual, so we may have a better sense of direction when getting ready to prepare our budget next year. We will be able to begin much sooner than we did this year and it will hopefully be a much smoother process.”

The Intermediate Unit agreement will be effective in July. The goal is to divide its time between the two locations.

Allison Willis is the Intermediate Unit's current business manager. After working for both the Hempfield and Mt. Pleasant School districts for a combined total of 12 years, Willis took the position with the Intermediate Unit two years ago.

“I've had a very positive work relationship with Allison. She came to the Intermediate Unit and made a lot of changes for them,” said Hutcheson.

“She really worked to move them forward fiscally, so I look for her same efforts to come through here.”

The Intermediate Unit expanded its business department by hiring an assistant business manager, J.R. Dzurica, to help with all necessary procedures. Dzurica will also be part of the team joining Jeannette in July.

“We already have a financial relationship established with the Intermediate Unit. Ultimately, the situation will save us nearly $50,000 each year,” said Hutcheson. “If you consider the $25-30,000 saved from payroll services, we're looking at over $75,000 saved for the district.”

Hutcheson is now working on the school's budget for the 2014-15 school year. Next year, the Intermediate Unit will prepare the budget and process all other business-related items.

“We've had so many business managers in the past that haven't necessarily worked out for us for one reason or another. By utilizing the Intermediate Unit, we're gaining experienced individuals and a lot of expertise,” said Hutcheson.

“Realistically, the district could not afford the level of expertise we're receiving, if we were to hire externally. This is an excellent opportunity for us to receive quality business services and avoid training a new business manager from the ground up.”

The Intermediate Unit will help the district close out the 2013-14 school year.

“I have a good handle on what's happening in the district financially, but I do not have a high level of experience in the business field. I'm excited for the change, because I believe we are going to have that expertise we need to point us in the right direction,” said Hutcheson.

“The Intermediate Unit's team will look at our internal control and tell us what's not working well. It will give us stability so we'll be moving in a very positive direction.”

Kaylie Harper is a contributing writer.

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