Schools — School board quickly moves to temporarily reorganize its fiscal roles and calls for a review of district finances following Nathan Roedels unexpected resignation

As public schools across Newberg opened their doors to begin the 2013-2014 school year Sept. 4, the Newberg School district was scrambling to deal with the sudden and curious resignation of its top financial officer six days earlier.

According to a release distributed Sept. 10, Director of Finance and Operations Nathan Roedel tendered his resignation on Aug. 29. The district accepted it the same day.

The Newberg School Board then called a special meeting Sept. 3 to designate a new deputy clerk, budget officer, check and purchase order authorizers and custodian of funds so as to comply with state law and allow the district to maintain day-to-day operations.

Roedel declined to comment on the situation. According to the district’s release, Superintendent Kym LeBlanc-Esparza stated that “confidence in the management of the district’s complex financial operations had been eroded.”

District officials declined to comment any further on the reason for the resignation, citing privacy policies regarding personnel matters.

The district has hired Gwen Gardner as interim director of finance, tasking her not only to manage the district’s finances until a replacement is hired, but to review and make a report on them to the board. It is expected that Gardner, who served as interim finance director for the Newberg School District in 2008, will work with LeBlanc-Esparza to present the report to the board at its meeting Sept. 24.

“I will work with her to put together what the board has asked for in terms of her work and she and I together will make recommendations on anything we feel they need to do on her verification of all the numbers and budget,” LeBlanc-Esparza said.

Shifting Roedel’s various roles and responsibilities to others required the board to approve the bonding of LeBlanc-Esparza for $100,000, which it did at the Sept. 3 special meeting, for which two board of seven board members and three of four staff attended in person. The others participated in the afternoon meeting by phone.

LeBlanc-Esparza will take over Roedel’s duties as custodian of funds, budget officer and auxiliary signer on student-body accounts as she assumes responsibility for day-to-day business operations and transportation services.

Assistant superintendent Dave Parker will serve as deputy clerk as he supervises technology, nutrition services and facility operations.

The board did not officially discuss the circumstances of Roedel’s arrangement at either the Sept. 3 special meeting or its regular meeting Sept. 10.

“That needed to be taken care of right away because with Nate being gone, we had a hole in our system and we had to fill that hole,” board member Ron Mock said of the board’s actions at the special meeting. “We’ve done something on an interim basis for now. We’ll be revisiting this as the dust settles and we think about replacing Nate.”

The district posted the open position of chief financial officer on its website Sept. 9, listing the filing deadline as Monday and the start date as October.

Roedel was hired in 2007 as supervisor of the school district’s nutrition services. He was promoted to finance director in 2009.

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