District 65 appoints new chief financial officer

On Monday, June 10, the Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board voted unanimously to appoint Tamara Mitchell as the district’s next chief financial officer.

Mitchell, assistant superintendent of business and financial services for Joliet Public Schools District 86 for the past eight years, will begin her new position on July 1. District 65 Business Manager Kathy Zalewski, who has worked in the business office for the past 23 years and helped oversee the district’s finances following the August 2023 departure of former CFO Raphael Obafemi, will step down on June 30.

In announcing the hire at Monday evening’s board meeting, Superintendent Angel Turner highlighted Mitchell’s upcoming role as the agency’s 2024-2025 president. Illinois School Business Officials Association.

Tamara Mitchell will assume the role of District 65 Chief Financial Officer on July 1, 2024. Loan: District 65

Mitchell is a certified school finance and operations administrator, according to a District 65 news release sent Monday evening. Prior to joining Joliet District 86, she served as supervisory accountant, assistant business manager and director of business operations for four different Illinois school districts from 2001 to 2016.

Finance and budget consultant Robert Grossi and his firm Illuminate will continue to advise District 65 during Mitchell’s transition as CFO, as they did last year, overseeing the creation of a budget reduction plan in collaboration with Turner’s central office.

“My team is thrilled that Ms. Mitchell shares our belief that students must remain at the center of everything we do,” Turner said in a statement. “I am confident that Ms. Mitchell will be able to improve our district’s financial health and rebuild the community’s confidence in our position as financial stewards.”

Under Grossi’s leadership, District 65 has already taken off permanent budget cuts of $7.37 million – $5.1 million in staff cuts and another $2.27 million in “staff reductions,” including a freeze on all “non-essential purchased services and supplies.”

This is just the first step in a multi-phase plan. Without the additional intervention of school closures and “right-sized” buildings with new school attendance boundaries Student Assignment Planning Process (SAP).the district continues to consider future budget shortfalls and depletion of reserve funds within the projected five years.