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School district hires chief financial officer

William Ferchland

The new number-cruncher for Lake Tahoe Unified School District was introduced last week while the search continues for the next high school principal.

Debra Yates, a business manager with the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools, signed a contract for two schools at an annual salary of $105,000.

The district was left without a chief financial officer after Mike Curran departed before the start of the 2005-06 school year. Superintendent Jim Tarwater and consultant Teresa Ryland took over the position to help save costs but, with the district still mired in declining enrollment, the school board wanted the position filled.

“We’ve always wanted to replace our (chief financial officer),” said Wendy David, president of the school board. “It’s really taken time to find the replacement.”

Yates, who appeared at the Tuesday board meeting and helped with a Power Point presentation of the 2006-07 budget, has 23 years experience in school finance.

She took a moment to say a few words and shared her excitement for the job as well as moving to South Lake Tahoe.

Yates will begin her new duties July 1.

She is excited about the chance to work at a job she applied for a couple years ago.

“Not many get to pursue their careers in probably the most beautiful place on Earth,” Yates said.

She said she understands the financial problems the district is facing from declining enrollment.

“That’s going to be my challenge is working with the district and finding fiscal balance to meet all the needs,” she said.

The search for a replacement for Marcia Kaster has proven more difficult. Human Resources Director said 10 people applied for the job that’s being vacated by Kaster, who is retiring after three years as principal of South Tahoe High School, and paper screenings reduced the number to six candidates.

But three took jobs before being interviewed. Delacour said the consensus was to advertise the position again. The application deadline is June 30.

David would not attribute the difficulty in finding a principal on the new schedule, dubbed the 4-by-4 because of the structure of having four classes each in two terms, designated to launch next school year.

“I think the toughest thing is the time of year,” David said. “It’s difficult to hire administrators during the summer months. I think that having a new schedule does add another layer of at least looking for someone who has some experience or knowledge of the 4-by-4, not that it’s a requirement but it’s helpful.”

Assistant Principal Jack Stafford said he has no interest in taking the principal job at the high school, where he has been for 17 years.

Stafford attributed the difficulty in finding a replacement for Kaster in Tahoe’s cost of living. He thought the district should consider buying homes and renting them at affordable rates for its employees.

“We have to look at some creative ways to attract good people because it’s not a bad place to work,” he said.

An interim principal is also being considered, David said.

“Our plan is to have someone in place (by the start of school in September) whether it be a principal or interim principal,” she said.


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