BG schools task force meeting

File. David Conley, with Rockmill Financial, talks to members of the Bowling Green schools financial task force at Crim Elementary.

Bowling Green City Schools will retain the services of its financial adviser despite one board member saying the treasurer could do the same work.

The board voted 3-2 at its April 20 board meeting to keep David Conley, of Rockmill Financial Consulting, on retainer for another year at a cost of $50,000.

Conley was meant to be a consultant and not a long-term contractor with the district, said board member Tracy Hovest.

Conley has been employed by the district for three years, at an annual cost of $50,000.

Hovest said she wants to see the money spent for his contract used for student needs.

“If you can’t take what you’ve learned from David and apply it, then it’s all been for naught,” she said. “At some point we have to fly. … It’s time we take the knowledge he’s given this district and utilize other resources that are available to us.”

Her statement got applause from one person in attendance at the meeting, which was held in the Performing Arts Center.

Treasurer Cathy Schuller said there were many reasons she would like to see the district continue Conley’s contract.

“Much of what David does is very different from what a school treasurer does and when you look at the main purpose of a school treasurer, the objective includes things like ensuring the district is following many of the requirements involved with the Ohio Revised Code and making sure we’re up to date on changes to fiscal legislation,” Schuller said.

She said she serves as an adviser to the board on any financial issues and both implements and monitors the accounting system.

“David’s abilities and what he can bring to the district are of significant value and they are very different from him being a specialist,” Schuller said.

Conley specializes in the finance field and his 30-plus years of experience is unfounded, she continued.

“No treasurer in the state of Ohio has his expertise,” Schuller said.

“I don’t underestimate or devalue the work that David has given to this district and the education he has provided this community,” Hovest said.

But when he was hired three years ago, he was meant to be a consultant and was never meant to be long term, she said.

“I have full faith in Cathy and her abilities. … I would definitely like to see the money that we would be spending on his salary be put elsewhere, back into our students,” she stated.

Board member Ryan Myers asked if Conley charges an hourly rate if the district needs his services.

It is $300 per hour, responded board President Norm Geer.

Myers said he did not doubt Conley’s expertise but is more interested in hiring him as needed.

“I feel pretty confident we can move forward without the services and without the contract,” he said.

Geer said that Conley can help the district navigate through what is pending, including federal pandemic and infrastructure funding.

“He has contacts that are valuable as well,” Geer said. “He has given us a lot of value through the years.”

The idea of hiring him on an as-needed basis is intriguing, he said.

Hovest again voiced support of Schuller and said at some point they need to trust her abilities.

Schuller said there are many things she can do, but levy structures and the evaluation of taxation policy of a whole is what he has helped with.

“If we weren’t a district that had a lot of issues and a lot of things coming up, I might agree (with an as-needed contract). But I think we also need to listen to our treasurer,” said board member Ginny Stewart.

Board member Jill Carr said she agreed with all comments but said a contract with Conley does not detract from Schuller’s contributions.

Conley’s services won’t be needed forever but the district is coming out of a unique year and still doesn’t know where it stands with the pandemic and facility issues, Carr said.

Hovest and Myers voted no on the motion to continue Conley’s contract.

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