By: Robert Burgess, Past MSBO Board President and Emeritus Member
Welcome to the world of school finance and business management to the new or recent school business officials. Welcome back to a new school year to the veterans.First let me thank and pay homage to each and every one of you, every business manager, accountant, food service specialist, transportation, maintenance, technology, or custodial director, and HR professionals. It may sound trite, but it is all too true: yours is an integral position in the education of our children and grandchildren. Yours is a challenging, yet honorable profession. Daily, you make a difference in the life of children.
Second, in my career I worked in and have been involved with the private, non-profit, corporate, and governmental sectors. As MSBO members, I know that you do your jobs professionally with a dignity and compassion rarely seen in other sectors of our economy. I can think of few positions more honorable, more important than education of youth. You make that possible as you serve your superintendent, other administrators, the school board, parents, voters, and, of course, the students of your community.
Third, yours is not an easy position which is probably a good reason why you are active with MSBO. Every year, there are new regulations, accounting pronouncements, food safety rules, bus safety regulations, professional cleaning standards, pesticide or chemical safety issues, financial challenges, teacher recruitment needs, bus driver shortages, and on and on and on.
That being said, I know your job is a challenge. The citizens of Michigan (especially the politicians in Lansing) and voters in your community have given you too few resources and not enough time in the day. But somehow, you make it happen. Every day in Michigan 1.4 million children sit in Michigan classrooms. They do so safely and are welcomed daily by their principals and teachers because of you and all you do.
Since I “retired” from daily Michigan schools day-to-day administration and school business management, I have served as an interim CFO in four school districts. The shortest of those gigs was just a month, the longest months. It is obvious to me that your jobs aren’t getting easier. If anything, they continue to become more complicated. Again, this points to the importance of MSBO in your professional development. For the new MSBO members, your networking with other professionals through MSBO and your regional groups is an important piece of that development. (As a young and introverted MSBO member years ago, I did not always think the latter was true. However, I found out how wrong I was in that regard.)
A couple of my interim CFO positions were because the former business manager had either been terminated or suddenly quit. I can understand. School business management jobs can be stressful. During such challenges, hopefully, you have developed your network of MSBO colleagues. From my experience, MSBO members are great resources and willing helping hands. You are not alone. Lean on MSBO and its members.
As I dropped off my grandson on his first day of school this year, I remembered how important each and every one of you are in his educational experience.
Best wishes to all of you. Muchas gracias to all of you. Fair winds and following seas from a U.S. Navy and MSBO veteran.