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Veteran accountant joins SKSD leadership trust

Tracy Patterson - Courtesy Photo
Tracy Patterson
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

After spending her entire professional career in south King County, she was ready to embrace a new opportunity.

Tracy Patterson started July 1 as South Kitsap School District’s assistant superintendent of business services.

She replaces Sandy Rotella, who left the district in March to return to her native Colorado.

Patterson comes to SKSD from the Renton School District, where she served as the business manager for nine years. Before that, Patterson spent 11 years in the Auburn School District as an accountant and senior accountant. She was promoted to those positions after working for three years as a bookkeeper at Auburn High School.

“I fell in love with public education and being around kids,” she said, referring to her position at Auburn High.

Patterson and SKSD’s other latest central office administrative hire, human resources director Misty Dieffenbach, both began their careers outside public education. While Dieffenbach worked in healthcare, Patterson served in a variety of accounting roles in construction, manufacturing and retail.

“The district is very fortunate to have two such skilled educational leaders joining the South Kitsap family,” SKSD superintendent Michelle Reid said. “Both have demonstrated success and enjoy solid positive reputations with colleagues in their respective districts and across the region. Our students, staff and community will be better for their efforts.”

Patterson, 54, said she will commute to SKSD from her home in northeast Tacoma. At work, she said she is busy meeting colleagues and helping develop the budget for the upcoming school year. The district will have a budget hearing at 6 p.m. Tuesday at SKSD’s administrative building. Reid said the budget will be adopted Aug. 19.

During a budget presentation July 15, interim chief financial officer Al Jones said he expected SKSD’s fund balance to increase to $8 million when school begins. That would represent the district’s largest fund balance since it was more than $8.6 million in 2009-10.

But that number decreased to about $4.9 million in 2012-13, which led Reid to consult with Debra Aungst, a former Puyallup School District administrator, to perform a review of SKSD’s finances last August. Aungst’s report stated that the district’s “current financial condition clearly calls for immediate attention.” She was referring to a specific category state education officials  use to measure each district’s financial health. Using the state’s matrix, SKSD was three steps away from a financial warning. Among the state’s 295 school districts, 270 were in better financial shape than SKSD.

“It was an indicator of recovery,” Patterson said, reffing to the fund balance increase. “You could see the trend. I think the district has turned around and is moving in a positive direction.”

Patterson said she will continue to examine the budget and look “to create efficiencies in the systems.”

 

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