Celebrating the successes and recognizing the extraordinary work of MSBO members are honored traditions at MSBO’s Annual Conference. Following are this year’s award recipients.
Distinguished Service Award – Gary L. Start, Kalamazoo Public Schools
MSBO’s Distinguished Service Award was established in 1987 to pay special tribute to exemplary current or former members of MSBO. It is given to a member who provides inspirational service to MSBO and the school business management community. Gary has had a long and distinguished career as the top business official for the Kalamazoo Public Schools. It is a diverse, urban district of more than 13,000 students. In the last two years, he has helped to restructure and make more equitable the county’s special education funding formula.
Gary was instrumental in the 2005 push for an enhancement millage within Kalamazoo County. At the state level, Gary was a founding board member of the Middle Cities Risk Management Trust and has been a long-time member of both MSBO and ASBO International. In the past four years, Kalamazoo Public Schools has received the ASBO Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting, one of only 21 Michigan school districts to receive the award in 2017.
For the past four years, Kalamazoo Public Schools was one of only five Michigan school districts to receive the Government Finance Officers Association Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting. Less than one percent of Michigan districts received the award in 2017. Kalamazoo Public Schools has benefited enormously from Gary’s leadership over his career as well as the many schools in Kalamazoo County.
School Business Official of the Year – Cheryl S. Wald, Mason Public Schools
Leadership and Stability. Those are two words that describe Cheryl. Cheryl assumed the leadership role of the district’s finances in the fall of 2014 and inherited a budget with excess expenditures over revenues. Mason was on the state’s “watch list” and Cheryl immediately provided the stability and leadership that Mason needed. Under Cheryl’s guidance, the general fund balance grew from just over 3% in 2014 to an audited year-end fund balance of 16.5% in 2018.
Cheryl is a gifted leader. She was a key component during the campaign for Mason’s recent successful bond proposal where she played many important roles. Not only was she responsible for budgeting and planning, she also led both the informational communications effort and the community advocacy group, “Yes Mason!” She was responsible for developing the factual financial literature that was provided to residents for the door-to-door campaign leading up to the bond election.
Friend of Education – School Finance Research Collaborative
MSBO did something a little different this year in that we honored the work of a group and not an individual. This year’s Friend of Education award winner is the School Finance Research Collaborative. Wanda Cook-Robinson, Oakland Schools Superintendent and the School Finance Research Collaborative Project Director, represented the Collaborative and accepted the award on behalf of the Collaborative. Launched in 2016, the Collaborative brought together business leaders, education experts, leaders from traditional public and charter schools throughout Michigan and top consultants in the education field.
The broad-based, diverse and bipartisan Collaborative worked together and oversaw the completion of a new, comprehensive school adequacy study, which was the first of its kind to determine the true cost of student achievement in Michigan. Regardless of whether a child attends a traditional public or charter school – they deserve the best possible education. It is hoped the study will help policymakers establish a school funding program that’s data-driven and works for all students.
President’s Award – Jeffrey C. Mills, Van Buren ISD and Timothy A. Raymer, Emeritus
Most MSBO awards are bestowed by nomination and committee choice, or chosen by the board. The President’s Award is chosen by the president. According to MSBO President Mike Hagerty, this award was rather easy for him because he couldn’t think of two better business officials to thank and recognize in front of 1,600 plus people for the impact they have made on his professional life, served as voices of reason, and helped to shape his success.
“And since the work of shaping me was no easy task, I’ve chosen to bestow this honor on two people that I have the utmost respect for,” said Hagerty. “While Jeff and Tim both possess exceptional technical skills, what sets them apart and why they are on this stage today are their intangibles…their integrity, their commitment to doing what’s best vs what’s easiest or quickest, and their humility. I have appreciated their friendship and their loyalty. I certainly would not be where I am without them.”
Meridian Award of Excellence
The Meridian Award of Excellence is a special recognition award acknowledging successful practices in all areas of school management and education. This year’s winners include:
- Maintenance, Operations & Technology Departments, Wayne-Westland Community Schools
- Theo Kerhoulas and David Koester, Port Huron Area School District
- Jon Barth, Berkley School District
- Teri Les, Walled Lake Consolidated Schools
Winners will be spotlighted in a future issue of the MSBO eNews & Views.
We know that MSBO members are sometimes hesitant to toot their own horn, but if you, or an individual or group of school business professionals you know, have done something that is noteworthy, they should be recognized, and the success shared with others. These awards help MSBO promote the business official profession. Make it a point to nominate someone for next year’s awards.
Other Articles in this Newsletter
- Become a Crucial Part of Your School’s Administrative Team
- Business Manager/CPA Workshop – June 5
- Comments from the President
- Financial Statement Preparation Workshop – June 4
- Five “Must Reads” This Summer
- MSBO Annual Golf Outing
- MSBO Update
- Need To Catch Up on Your SCECHS?
- Robert Dwan Named MSBO Deputy Executive Director
- Welcome New Members