The Recorder – Frontier Hires Full Time Treasurer

Published: 09/23/2022 14:20:40

Modified: 09/23/2022 14:20:02

SOUTH DEERFIELD — As the Frontier Regional School District’s financial liability grows each year — now up to $32 million between budgets and grants — it has hired a full-time treasurer and accounting specialist to help better manage the money from the four member cities.

“There is a real need for central office to have senior financial staff,” Business Administration Director Shelley Poreda explained at the Frontier School committee meeting Sept. 13. “The volume of money we bring in is not reduced.”

The district has hired TMS Inc. chief business officer and associate director of policy studies Michael DeBarge as full-time treasurer, having previously operated with part-time staff. DeBarge previously served as senior business manager for the Belchertown and Lee school districts.

“For the past few years, I’ve done most of the work in a middle school business office,” DeBarge said. “I think the role sounds really exciting…and to me, that feels like a wonderful next step.”

While the school board wasn’t legally required to vote on the position because the district’s budget wasn’t changing, Frontier and Union 38 superintendents Darius Modestow and Poreda said they wanted to take the matter to court. the committee for the sake of transparency.

William Smith, a school committee member, said it made sense to hire another person for the finance office as Frontier and Union 38’s budgets continue to grow.

“This is a $32 million operation and you can’t operate it on a wing and a prayer,” he said.

Poreda added that the district posted a job posting for a part-time treasurer position, but received no applications until it was reposted as a full-time job.

With increased financial responsibilities, Modestow said another person in the finance office could help the district be more efficient and save the four towns money.

“This neighborhood has always been skinny,” Modestow said. “We are very inefficient because we are five different districts. … If you’re talking about that amount of money and you’re skinny, you’re in trouble in the long run.

When asked why he wanted the job, DeBarge said he wanted to “go deep into a district” and put his skills to good use.

“I’m looking for a place where I can be part of the community,” he says. “Get a little more grounded, have that consistency with the people I deal with and the people I work with, and have a long-term type feel.”

Reduced municipal contributions

Due to an increase in per-student Chapter 70 funding, Poreda said each of the four member cities’ assessments for fiscal year 2023 were reduced. The state has increased funding by $60 per student, according to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website.

With smiles around the table, the school board reduced Conway’s assessment by $2,546; Deerfield’s $7,566; Sunderland of $3,587; and Whately of $1,750.

“Every little bit counts,” Smith added.

At the September 19 Selectboard meeting in Sunderland, chairman Tom Fydenkevez thanked the school district for agreeing to send the money back to towns when it was not required to.

“$3,500 in a city is a lot of money. … We have an $8 million budget, but we are squeezing it,” Fydenkevez commented. “It is not the amount that is important, but the fact that there is an open line of communication.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.

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