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Published: Tuesday, 7/25/2006

TPS ready to interview 1st treasurer candidate

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Fortlage Fortlage
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Toledo Public Schools leaders today will interview their first applicant interested in becoming the district's top financial steward: a former treasurer from a two-school building district in Ohio's Marion County.

Dan Griscom, who was treasurer for the Ridgedale Local School District, will meet with the board's human resources committee. So far, he's the only confirmed applicant for the position, board members said.

The Toledo Board of Education last week agreed to spend as much as $15,900 to have the Ohio School Boards Association help find it find a treasurer.

Current Treasurer James Fortlage is retiring Sept. 1 and following former Superintendent Eugene Sanders to Cleveland, where Mr. Sanders is now chief executive of the public school system.

Mr. Fortlage will be the chief financial officer for Cleveland schools beginning Sept. 5.

The Toledo district's assistant to the treasurer, James Larson-Shidler, also announced his resignation June 27.

"We are looking for a short-term replacement for Jim [Fortlage] to give a little transition before bringing in the permanent replacement," said board member Robert Torres, who sits on the human resource committee.

Board Vice President Deborah Barnett, who chairs the committee, admitted the board was "under the gun" to find a treasurer.

All Toledo Public Schools business will cease if the board of education is unable to find a treasurer before Aug. 31, when Mr. Fortlage's resignation takes effect.

Additionally, Mr. Fortlage is scheduoled to take vacation time for most of the month of August, leaving no one to sign checks and manage the money for the district.

"We are going to do everything we possibly can to make sure that doesn't happen," Ms. Barnett said.

Interim Superintendent John Foley said other districts have hired retired people on an interim basis.

"I think to find someone with the experience in an urban environment makes it a new challenge, and certainly [the treasurer] will have to manage multiple budgets and multiple issues," Mr. Foley said.

The search for a permanent replacement could take three months.

The new treasurer must be licensed in Ohio, making a national search unlikely, Mr. Foley said.

Mr. Griscom did not return repeated phone calls last night. His name was on a document from the Ohio School Boards Association that listed former treasurers interested in working as an interim.

In 2004-05, the Ridgedale Local School District had just over 900 students, compared to about 30,000 attending Toledo Public Schools.

Kathy Lasota, a deputy director for the association, said it will market the position and recruit qualified applicants.

"Treasurer positions are very difficult to fill, and the pool is shrinking," Mrs. Lasota said.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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