01STOCK_MILTONSCHOOLS01

MILTON

As two Milton School District committees see it, the district has two options to cover the duties of its now-retired business services director: hire a new business manager or spread the tasks among current staff members.

The district has been doing the latter since former Business Services Director Mary Ellen Van Valin retired in March.

The Milton School District’s finance and human resource committees discussed the options Friday during a joint meeting.

The school board, which must make the final decision, will hear a report on the discussion when it meets at 6:30 p.m. today.

Van Valin was interviewed during a recent investigation into stipends given last year to three district employees—including Superintendent Tim Schigur and Director of Administrative Operations Jerry Schuetz—without school board approval. She refused to sign paperwork for the stipends and eventually told a school board member, who made her concerns public, according to a report on the investigation.

Since her departure in March, Van Valin’s responsibilities have been distributed to accounting specialist Wendy LaPointe, payroll supervisor Debra Ytzen and Schuetz.

Schigur said he believes the district has qualified staff to fill those responsibilities until the board decides how to move forward.

It is not a new practice for the district to create or fill positions with existing staff, he said.

In a memo to the committees, Schuetz said Ytzen and LaPointe are knowledgeable and worked closely with Van Valin on the budget before she retired.

Ytzen, who attended Friday’s meeting, said the additional responsibilities are more work for her and others, but the work is not new for them.

Some residents have questioned whether Schuetz should oversee the business services department, based on his education and experience.

Schuetz has a business manager license through the state Department of Public Instruction, is a certified public manager, and has a master’s degree in public administration and a doctorate in educational leadership. Van Valin was one of Schuetz’s designated mentors during his coursework at Edgewood College, according to the memo.

LaPointe is working on a master’s degree in school business management and a DPI business manager license.

The district is “exploring ways to reduce operational expenses” as it approaches the expiration of a $2.5 million operational referendum, and not hiring another person could save money, according to the memo.

If a new business manager were hired, that person would assume the responsibilities Van Valin had when she retired. Those changed in August 2018 after administrative restructuring, and much of her work focused on budget creation and management, Schuetz said.

Baird, a financial company, has offered its consulting services during the transition, according to Schuetz’s memo.

The district also could hire an administrative person who would be paid less than a business manager, Schuetz said.

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