This week, host Carole Dorn-Bell is joined by Chris Mohr, of K-12 Consulting in Columbus. Mohr shares thoughts on one of the most important positions within every school district – treasurer, also known as Chief Financial Officer.
Mohr talks about how treasurers get licensed, their job duties – and how those have changed – and how school districts hire for the position.
Any treasurer search starts with a set of traits the board is looking for in a person.
The top characteristics, Mohr says, include: Communication skills, financial leadership skills, approachability and ability to work as a team with the superintendent and board of education.
“I know it surprises people that communication would be the first thing,” says Mohr, who served as a school treasurer for nearly 30 years. “But really, communication skill and working with people is the number one thing that boards of education and the folks that support a school system are looking for.”
If you can’t communicate, you can’t lead, he says.
A treasurer should be able to explain complex financial topics in simple terms, with understandable visuals. People want to know how their children’s educations are funded, and the public is wary of government spending.
Mohr says that, in part because of the stringent requirements to become a treasurer, it’s the hardest job to hire for.
“It’s very difficult,” he says.
What exactly are the job duties? Maintaining all the accounts and records for the district, investing, reporting to the state and federal government, grant recording and issuing debt, among other things.
Both technology and budget cuts have forced some of the evolution.
Mohr says the biggest change in the profession is that it’s gone from being a position of bookeeping to one of “financial leadership.”
It’s about being able to communicate the technical topics while thinking on your feet.
Mohr stresses the importance of five-year forecasting.