Lake Local School District officials have narrowed the number of potential treasurers from 31 to 3, and that could be closed to one after a special meeting tonight.
The school board's organizational meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Millbury administration building, 28025 Main St., and board members plan to interview the three candidates in a closed-door executive session after the recently elected or appointed board members are sworn in.
The district needs a new treasurer because former treasurer Greg Spiess resigned in October to become treasurer of the Hancock County Educational Service Center in Findlay.
After about a month of collecting applications in November, Superintendent Paul Orshoski and Interim Treasurer John Coffman initially paper-screened the 31 applicants.
Over the course of two days, the pair conducted hour-long interviews with nine candidates, and recommended four to a committee based on the applicants' qualifications, references, and initial interview.
The committee - made up of board members Ted Hubler and Eric Hirzel, Walbridge and Lake elementary schools Principal Paul Raczkowski, and community member Scott Swartz - interviewed just three of the candidates last month because the fourth decided to withdraw his name.
The plan was for the committee to recommend two candidates to the school board for a final decision, but Mr. Hirzel said all three were certainly qualified for the job.
"The quality of the ones we interviewed was pretty darn good," he said. "All three are abundantly qualified and intelligent, and I think what it's going to boil down to is personalities. Any one will do the job well."
The candidates are:
● Jeff Carpenter of Port Clinton who graduated from Bowling Green State University, where he majored in accounting. He spent 22 years with an accounting service company and now works for Lakeside Realty in Port Clinton.
● Richard Peper of Liberty Center, Ohio. He received an associate's degree in account-ing from then-Owens Technical College and a bachelor's degree in business from the University of Toledo. He's now a retired internal auditor and purchasing agent.
● Nancy Segel of Maumee. After graduating from Taylor University with a bachelor's degree in accounting and business administration, she became a certified public accountant and is an auditor with Plante & Moran of Toledo.
Mr. Coffman said Mr. Carpenter is the only candidate who is a licensed treasurer. If one of the other two are chosen, they'll have to train under Mr. Coffman while taking two classes to become certified before they can officially take over the job.
Mr. Coffman recommended that the board open the job to "non-traditional candidates" because there would be more applicants to choose from and the pay scale would be lower.
Along with hiring a treasurer this year, the board will +be saddled with coming up with a plan to replace the district's superintendent and to pass a funding request in May.
Mr. Orshoski, who has been Lake's superintendent since 2000, set a Dec. 31 retirement date with the school board, and plans to step down to become assistant superintendent in August. The district plans to hire an interim superintendent while they look for a permanent replacement.
The cash-strapped district will have a deficit of more than $1.5 million at the end of 2008 if a levy is not passed and the district stays status quo with the personnel and service cuts the board has been forced to make after the last six funding requests have been rejected.