OTHELLO — Lisa Pearce is the new executive director of business services for the Othello School District. She will start at the beginning of September.
Pearce will replace Brian Bodah, who resigned in March.
Pearce comes to Othello from Fairbanks, Alaska, where she was chief financial officer for the Fairbanks-North Star Borough School District. She said the move back to the Lower 48 is a way to get closer to family.
Children and grandchildren live in the Puget Sound and Coeur d’Alene, she said. The last kid in the family recently graduated, and “we were anticipating a long, lonely winter up here,” she said, and she started looking for jobs a little closer to the family.
Pearce said she’s worked in school finance for 25 years, starting as a substitute in the Montana district where her kids went to school. She was still in college, working on her business degree. Eventually she was hired as the district’s sole business administrator. “The rest is history.”
She worked for school districts large and small, five years in Montana and 14 in Wyoming. She’s worked in districts of every size, she said, from a district with 180 kids total, kindergarten through high school, to Fairbanks, which has about 13,000 students.
“Othello is what I’m seeing to be the perfect size district,” she said. She was impressed with what she heard of the district’s plans for the future. “It’s moving in the right direction. I’m anxious to be a part of that.”
In addition, “the rural part of it is exciting.”
In most districts, Pearce has been the one of the few administrators, and usually the only one in the business office, who didn’t spend time in the classroom. In discussions of school finance, “it’s important to have the business acumen and focus,” she said.
Pearce and her family have lived in Alaska six years, the first two on Kodiak Island, then four in Fairbanks. The move north was “totally based on the desire for adventure,” and the challenge of taking on an adventure before it was too late. “And it’s been an adventure. The last frontier is the only way to say it.”
Education has been an interesting career, she said. “Every day is different.”
Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.