The Blade/Lori King
Matt Cleland was an emergency replacement as treasurer of Toledo Public Schools. Now, he wants a long-term commitment, and to make his own mark.
Toledo Board of Education members voted Tuesday to offer Mr. Cleland a new contract, with terms and conditions yet to be negotiated. The board is expected to approve a new contract in March.
Mr. Cleland got a two-year contract in 2012 at a salary of $130,500 a year, after taking the district’s top financial position several months prior when former treasurer Dan Romano resigned.
He previously was director of the TPS office of budget and management, and brought in on an interim-basis after Mr. Romano’s sudden and contentious departure. Mr. Cleland said he would like a long-term contract.
Mr. Romano was at times a polarizing figure. Union leaders, in particular, did not think highly of the previous treasurer.
When he resigned in late 2011, there were accusations of unethical behavior, union pressure, policy differences, and personality conflicts. There were also complaints by board members that many bills for vendors and utilities were delinquent.
Mr. Cleland has a less adversarial demeanor than his predecessor, and realized part of his job was to bring a gentler touch to the treasurer’s office.
“I had to start mending fences and building bridges, and I’ve worked on that,” he said.
But personality only goes so far.
Mr. Cleland said he insisted his staff start no new projects until core problems were addressed.
Audit findings, for instance, had increased in prior years, and staff focused on reducing those findings, he said.
Mr. Cleland has spearheaded implementation of a performance audit of the district which will save the district significant money, though the end savings will likely not be close to those projected by the firm that conducted the audit.
With a new contract on its way and long-running concerns addressed, Mr. Cleland said he has plans to tackle new initiatives. Among those would be upgrading the payroll software system.