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Lodi Unified School District’s business officer gets a fresh title, new duties

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Tim Hern

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013 12:00 am

A new superintendent has joined the ranks of leaders at Lodi Unified School District. Former chief business officer Tim Hern has been upgraded to associate superintendent, along with retaining the CBO tag.

Hern says this is not a promotion, but a change in titles and responsibility. He is now second-in-command of a district that has seen significant changes in priorities since Hern was hired as CBO two years ago, and oversees every department outside of educational services.

That includes facilities, maintenance and operations, technology, transportation, food services, risk management, payroll and purchasing. Hern will oversee all these departments, not just their budgets.

"My responsibility is to make sure the business operations are working to support the school side. It's not an unusual arrangement," said Hern. His salary will remain at $151,878.

Several other local school districts, including Lincoln, Manteca and Tracy unified school districts, all have one associate superintendent to manage the business side of running their schools.

Former assistant superintendent Art Hand retired from the district in December, kicking off a round of reorganization among Lodi Unified administrators.

The business side is now sorted into two senior director positions, with three tiers of directors beneath them. No one lost a job in the process, and no one's pay was cut. A new job even opened up in the food services department to manage nutrition requirements, develop menus and train new cooks.

Hern said his focus in this new position is on refreshing technology in the school district and handling ongoing budget questions.

Fiscally, the state is creating more questions than answers, said Hern.

As a result of Proposition 30 and other measures, there will be a very slight increase in education financing from the state. But there is still a long road ahead before the district returns to 2007-08 levels, said Hern.

"It's as though we stopped the leak in the dam, and one small stream is starting to trickle back in," he said.

One achievement Hern noted was that the turmoil of yearly layoffs ended during his first year as CBO.

"Teachers being notified of possibly losing their jobs is not any kind of working environment you want to be in. It put stability into the district," he said.

The needs of the district have changed since Hern came on board. New schools are no longer being built every summer. The focus now is on maintenance and keeping up the buildings that are already there.

"All the stuff you do to keep up your house needs to be done to keep up the buildings," he said.

Currently, Hern's team is in the process of developing 20- to 25-year maintenance plans for each school site. He has no plans for immediate retirement, but said he wanted to make sure district plans were in a state that he would be comfortable leaving to a successor.

His big focus is technology. Hern said the district does not have the bandwidth to support enough computers at once throughout the district. For example, when all teachers must enter report card or benchmark testing results on the same day, the system often crashes.

"Day-to-day standard use is fine, but on a high-demand, peak day, there is just not enough room," said Hern. "We need to find the resources to rebuild our technology."

The district also needs more and newer classroom computers to comply with the California Common Core Standards required by the 2013-14 school year, he said.

But Hern maintains these are exactly the kinds of problems he enjoys solving.

"What I've fallen into is my best possible contribution to doing what I can for education," he said.

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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  • Joanne Bobin posted at 10:41 am on Sun, Jan 27, 2013.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4296

    Excellent comments, Mr. Neely.

    It is sad that so many perceive District Administrators as "ridiculous chair sitters" when they have absolutely NO perception of what the job entails.

    Before my husband retired he was a director at the district level in the Sacramento area. He left home at 4AM and returned maybe around 7PM depending on what activities he had to attended, i.e., board meetings, individual school events, etc.

    He oversaw a budget of 5 million dollars, much of it federal funding, and every penny had to be accounted for through multiple reports to the feds. He visited every school site at least once a month and sat in on classes, evaluating teacher and student performance and brought in over 1 million in grants to supplement district funds over his 4 year tenure, far, far exceeding his salary. That is only a small percentage of his duties.

    The idiom, "walk a mile in my shoes" should be considered before making judgmental comments of which one knows nothing.

  • George Neely posted at 8:47 am on Sun, Jan 27, 2013.

    George Neely Posts: 12

    I'm sorry, but I can’t let Mr. Branson's post go by as the only comment on this story. I can’t let that go by as the only comment on this story. Let me add a couple of things.
    First, the story did not mention a few important details. This change, as put together by Mr. Hern and Dr. Washer, will save the district over $100,000 annually. Reducing cost has been one of the goals of this Board since we were seated in 2010. Mr. Hern has been one of the chief engineers of that effort.
    The position vacated with the retirement of Art Hand will not be filled. A logical question then is why didn’t we do that earlier? Truth is that not only was Mr. Hand very good at his job of keeping things working in this district while money was (is) short, he was also VERY good at finding ways of bringing more money into the district. He brought in far more than was his salary. There is no replacing Art Hand. That said, we move on.
    Two years ago, when Mr. Hern came to Lodi, the Board of Education tasked him with finding a way to stop the cycle of layoffs that was destroying this district. He not only did that, but also put us back on firm financial footing despite continued declining revenues. Now that the decline in revenue has leveled off, and in fact we may see some small increases, Lodi Unified has got to be prepared to use these funds in the best possible ways to meet the needs of our students. I have listened closely to Tim Hern’s ideas and plans, and I feel confident that we are in good hands.
    Tim is far from a “ridiculous chair sitter.” He has made, and will continue to make, a significant difference for Lodi Unified and the tax payers of this district. We are fortunate to have him as part of our team.

  • Jerry Bransom posted at 3:42 pm on Sat, Jan 26, 2013.

    Jerry Bransom Posts: 363

    Yet another ridiculous chair sitter.



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