Jeffco Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Lorie Gillis is leaving her post to join the city management team in Arvada, Jeffco officials announced today.
Gillis is Jeffco’s second high-profile administrator to leave since last year’s reconfiguration of the district’s school board and the subsequent departure of Superintendent Cindy Stevenson. Jeffco’s chief academic officer, Heather Beck, left at the end of the school year to become a superintendent in Oregon.
Gillis’ exit comes at a precarious time for the school district. Last week, the Jefferson County Board of Education approved a drastically new compensation system for teachers that will likely take months to sort through. Her office, as well as the human resources department, will play a crucial role in the rollout of the new system that links bonuses to teacher evaluation ratings.
Gillis, like many, was caught off guard when she learned the specifics of the plan outlined by board chairman Ken Witt. At the board meeting, last month, in which he proposed the new system, she characterized it as “a lot” of change.
Gillis declined to say whether the new conservative board majority had any influence on her decision to leave the school district.
“It was just something I didn’t want to pass up,” she said in an interview with Chalkbeat. “[Arvada] is incredibly well run and fiscally sound. It’s just an exciting opportunity.”
A transition plan has not been discussed yet, Gillis said. But her departure is unlikely to prolong teachers’ wait for their bonuses.
Gillis is also leaving as the district gets to work on its 2015-16 budget, which her office is responsible for overseeing.
Last school year, the budget process dragged out through June. In the end, Gillis and her team were left crunching numbers at the last minute as board members debated their priorities through the evening.
“We have a rock solid financial team at the district,” she said. “That helped with the decision making [to leave]. We have strong folks to step up.”
Gillis has worked for Jeffco since 2002. Since then, she has overseen the district’s financial services, as well as human resources and information technology.
“Lorie has worked tirelessly on behalf of Jeffco students and staff keeping the district financially sound. She has always been a great steward of taxpayer dollars and has taken that role very seriously over the years,” said Jeffco Superintendent Dan McMinimee. “While I’m saddened by Lorie’s departure from Jeffco, I know that she leaves an enduring legacy of financial excellence and transparency. This is a great opportunity for her and I join many others who wish her only the very best as she begins a new chapter in her professional life.”
Gillis’ last day has not been finalized but is likely at the end of the month, she said. She begins her new job in Arvada, where she lives, Oct. 13.