NEW LENOX – Lincoln-Way School District 210 officials have hired a new business manager they say will provide “checks and balances” for the district.
The board on Thursday approved hiring Bradley Cauffman, a chief financial officer for a Naperville school district, as the new assistant superintendent of business. Under a three-year contract, Cauffman will earn a salary of $153,000, increasing to $159,000 by 2020.
The district’s finances have come under heavy scrutiny since 2015, when it was given the state’s worst financial rating and the board approved in a highly controversial decision the closure of Lincoln-Way North High School to cut costs.
As the new business manager, Cauffman will lead, plan, organize and direct operational financial and budgeting services, which includes being responsible for tax levies, annual budgets, bids, contracts and managing the district’s long-term debt.
Cauffman said he thinks the position will be a great opportunity and that District 210 is a great district.
“I believe my skill set – along with working with [the district’s] team of administrators – I believe it will be a great opportunity for everybody all around,” Cauffman said.
He will fill a position that has been vacant for about a year. Ronald Sawin, the previous business manager, agreed to an accelerated retirement pact last March that acknowledged a dispute between him and the board over his performance.
Cauffman works as the chief financial officer for Naperville School District 203. Before working in Naperville, he was chief financial officer for St. Charles School District 303.
Cauffman holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Wyoming, as well as a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Wisconsin.
Lincoln-Way Superintendent Scott Tingley said Cauffman’s position will create a “system of checks and balances” with Kelly Luzzo, the district’s finance director. Luzzo, along with interim business manager Richard Pagliaro, were hired by the district last summer, following Sawin’s retirement.
“It provides that checks and balances, which is one of the things the auditors had asked us for this last time around. It puts us in a much better position,” Tingley said.
Tingley said the district still has work to do on its general ledger, or record of financial transactions. Cauffman becoming business manager for the district will allow Luzzo to focus her time on daily accounting needs, he said.
Luzzo has been working on the district’s accounting practices to address the findings of a 2015-16 audit. Tingley said she will track financial controls, revenues and expenses, as well as approve all purchases and serve as the district’s internal auditor.
District officials interviewed four candidates for assistant superintendent of business and received more than 20 applications. Tingley said the board asked administrators to find a business manager who has experience dealing with large school districts.
Tingley said Cauffman’s position is “budget neutral” because the district will absorb estimated savings of $201,000 from not paying Steven Langert, the district’s interim business consultant, or Pagliaro next year, along with transitioning to Skyward software and having one less bookkeeper.
Cauffman’s total compensation is $189,705 this year, which includes benefits and other expenses. It’s $17,718 less than the total compensation for his position at Naperville District 203, according to Tingley’s memo to the board that analyzed the salary pool for area school business officials.
The memo also stated the average total compensation for similar positions in comparable districts – such as Joliet Township High School District 204 – is $220,015.
After the board approved Cauffman’s hiring, board President Dee Molinare welcomed him to the district.
“It is a great place to not only work but also to live. Welcome to Lincoln-Way,” she said.