The Westerville City School District (WCSD) Board of Education today approved the retirement of Treasurer/CFO Bart Griffith and announced plans to fill the vacancy on both an interim and permanent basis.
“This is a bittersweet announcement we are making this evening,” said Board President Rick Vilardo. “Mr. Griffith has done so much to strengthen the financial health of our district that, quite selfishly, we wish we could keep him working for our schools at least another six years. However, we also know that retirement is in his best interest and that of his family.”
Vilardo read Griffith’s retirement letter aloud during the Board’s regular meeting on January 20, 2017. In addition to expressing his sincere appreciation for the opportunity to serve WCSD and its community, Griffith’s letter also shared the primary reason behind his decision.
“As you know, I have been dealing with a lot of serious health issues these past several years,” Griffith wrote. “It has become more and more difficult to work through my health issues while working at a high level for the district.”
Griffith’s retirement, recognized as a “disability retirement” by both the School Employees Retirement System and the WCSD Board of Education, is effective January 1, 2018. Vilardo said that WCSD Assistant Treasurer Laura Hendricks will serve as interim treasurer and, in conjunction with Superintendent’s Office, will manage day-to-day financial matters until a new Treasurer is hired.
“I would like to thank Mrs. Hendricks for agreeing to fulfill this critical role until we are able to identify and hire our next Treasurer,” Vilardo said. “She has been with our district as Assistant Treasurer since 1998 and we know that she will do an exceptional job for us as our Interim Treasurer.”
Vilardo said the Board plans to use the services of the Ohio School Boards Association at an estimated cost of $7,000 to conduct its search for next Treasurer.
“We are fully committed to transparency and public representation in our search and selection process,” Vilardo said. “Mr. Griffith is departing at a time when district finances are strong, which brings an added benefit to our ability to attract top talent.”
WCSD’s most recent financial forecast projects an additional year of fiscal stability with a healthy cash balance through Fiscal Year 2022. Additionally, the district continues to maintain a $19 million reserve fund, which is good fiscal stewardship and provides approximately 45 days of operating costs in the event of any unforeseen financial crises.
Under Griffith’s leadership, efforts to stabilize and stretch district finances resulted in Moody’s Investors Service upgrading WCSD from Aa2 to Aa1, the second highest possible ranking. As a result, WCSD is one of just 20 school districts in the State of Ohio with the highest or second highest rating from Moody’s. Additionally, the district earned its fifth consecutive Ohio Auditor of State Award with Distinction for meeting rigorous financial reporting and operational standards.
“Our goal is to attract a large pool of high-caliber candidates and hire the person best qualified to continue the great work that our leadership team has done to stabilize district finances over these past several years,” Vilardo said. “We expect this search to begin in December and will keep the community informed of our progress, as well as opportunities to participate in the process.”