Education

School District Has New Business Administrator

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PATERSON, NJ – Richard Kilpatrick once monitored the finances of the Paterson school district as part of his job with the New Jersey Department of Education.

Starting next week, Kilpatrick will be on Paterson Public Schools’ payroll as the district’s latest business administrator, a position that has been filled by a revolving door of five other people during the past two years.

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The district is paying Kilpatrick $175,000, or $15,000 more than what Paterson’s last permanent school business administrator was making. In coming to Paterson, Kilpatrick is leaving his $110,000 job as school business administrator in Jamesburg, a position he took in May 2012, according to a story by The Sentinel.

“Richard comes to Paterson with a wealth of knowledge and experience as an auditor and business administrator in this state, and for having worked in the private sector in this region,’’ said Paterson’s state-appointed superintendent, Donnie Evans, in a written statement. “His previous experience in Paterson made him a unique candidate because he is acutely aware of the DOE’s expectations for a state operated district.’’

“Further, during his time here, he developed strong, positive relationships with the district staff,’’ continued Evans’ statement. “Richard’s demonstrated competence and leadership skills are important for a district of our size; and we are extremely pleased to have him joining us to help us maintain stability in our fiscal operations.’’

Paterson Public Schools has a budget of about $550 million and in recent years the district has relied on tapping into its surplus accounts to balance the budget. Officials have warned that the district faces an impending budget problem in upcoming years because of that practice.

“We definitely need someone who’s going to come in and review our finances and our contracts,’’ said Board of Education President Christopher Irving.

“It’s important that you have someone qualified in the position of business administrator,’’ said board member Errol Kerr, chairman of the finance committee. “After all, you can’t do much without resources. You need someone who can look at things and warn the superintendent if they see problems.’’

Board members said the decision to hire Kilpatrick was made by Evans.

The revolving door in the district’s business office goes back two years, when Evans terminated Frances Finkelstein, the business administrator who had been working under his predecessor.  Finkelstein sued the district and ended up getting a $165,000 settlement.

After Finkelstein, the district retained two interim business administrators - Joseph Amatuzzi and David Rinderknecht - for eight months, paying them $750 per day under contracts worth $140,000 apiece. Then, the district hired Carol Fredericks for $160,000 in August 2011. But she left after five months when she received a $600,000 settlement from a previous employer, the Atlantic City Board of Education. District employee Daisy Ayala then served as interim business administrator for about a year. She was paid $140,000.

Kilpatrick had worked for the state education department for four years. Before that, he was business administrator of West Amwell public schools for 16 months and business administrator of a charter school in Camden County for 16 months. He also held various auditing positions at New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rutgers University and Kean College.

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