Denair Unified’s newly hired head of finance is now on duty, filling out the in-house leadership team that’s expected to carry the school district back from insolvency and onto solid fiscal footing within the next two years.
Chief Business Officer Linda Covello comes to Denair after five years at the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, with 19 campuses, last serving as a categorical program analyst in the finance department. Her first day in her new post was April 1.
Covello, 28, takes over at a key time in the history of the Denair district, which required a loan from the Stanislaus County Office of Education to balance its $8.7 million budget this year and has made a series of difficult cuts, including teacher layoffs, to avoid a state takeover. Denair has about 1,400 students on six campuses.
“Linda helped her previous district maximize funding sources for efficiency and effectiveness,” said Superintendent Aaron Rosander, calling Covello “an emerging fiscal leader” with a keen eye for financial detail and strong communication and interpersonal skills.
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Rosander was hired in January and transitioned into his office in February as Interim Superintendent Walt Hanline stepped away. Hanline will continue on an hourly basis for the next few months as a consultant to the board and Rosander.
Covello will work alongside Douglas Crancer, who has served as the interim chief business officer since last year. He will remain as a part-time adviser through the 2014-15 school year.
“With many changes being made at DUSD, I think the biggest challenge for the district will be moving on from how things have been done or handled in the past,” said Covello. “I am confident that DUSD is moving toward a brighter future, and I’m very excited to be a part of the district during this time of transformation and growth.”
Covello grew up in Los Banos and graduated from high school there before getting a bachelor’s degree in business and accounting at Brandman University. She worked as a purchasing agent in the Monterey district, where she helped streamline processes for auditing and budgeting. She lives in Turlock.
“I was quickly drawn to Denair Unified School District because of a few key words in its mission statement: ‘recognizes our children as our future’ and ‘lifelong love for learning,’ ” Covello said. “I was further drawn to DUSD after seeing the location and meeting some of the people involved with the district, because it felt like a tight-knit family who cares about each of the students, staff and community members and wants to see each student not only pass, but succeed with flying colors.”
Covello said her initial focus will be “to work with site administrators in accessing their financial information” while developing into “the full-time support that has been missing.” She also will work with Rosander, Crancer, other district leaders and community members to respond to new requirements tied to state funding.