The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

August 24, 2013

Finance chief search expected to take at least 6 weeks

School officials said Jonathan Craft has performed well in his 11 years as chief school finance officer for Limestone County Schools, and both the school superintendent and school board chairman said they favored giving him a salary increase.

But Craft, 35, will mark his final day as Limestone’s CSFO on Aug. 30 and officially begin his $90,000 contract with Hartselle City Schools on Sept. 1.

The board of education approved his resignation during Tuesday’s board meeting, although it won’t become official until Oct. 8 due to accrued leave.

The contract with Hartselle is for three years and has a requirement for annual performance reviews. Craft, who has never been evaluated by the central office or school board, presented an $89.9 proposed budget at Limestone’s first budget hearing Aug. 20.

Hartselle’s budget hearings are set for Sept. 12 and Sept. 16. Hartselle Superintendent Vic Wilson previously said Craft could return for Limestone’s second budget hearing on Sept. 10, if necessary.

Board mulls CSFO pay

Limestone board Chairman Bret McGill said before it became known that Hartselle was considering Craft as a finalist in its nearly 6-month search to fill its CSFO vacancy, the school board passed on an informal effort by McGill and Limestone Superintendent Dr. Tom Sisk to upgrade Craft’s compensation.

The Limestone chief financial officer is currently paid $83,499. The state Legislature approved a 2 percent increase for K-12 employees effective fiscal 2014, which starts Oct. 1. Craft’s pay would have increased to $85,168.

The CSFO reports to the superintendent but has “fiduciary responsibility to the local board of education,” according to the state’s School Fiscal Accountability Act passed in 1996. School boards are responsible for three positions within a school system — the board attorney, superintendent and the CSFO.

The Limestone board gave the superintendent a favorable job review in July. It also approved Aug. 6 a 1-year extension to Sisk’s original 3-year contract and a one-time, $5,000 increase. With the 2 percent state raise, Sisk’s salary for this contract year is $122,300, compared to $115,000 for the first year.

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