Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Oldani Will Find Rockwood's Problems Familiar

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Oldani Will Find Rockwood's Problems Familiar

Article excerpt

The Rockwood School District faces many of the same growth-related issues that its new superintendent, John R. Oldani, successfully tackled as head of the Francis Howell School District.

In Rockwood, a district that has been criticized for poor financial oversight of construction budgets and shoddy record-keeping, Oldani will have the added challenge of restoring taxpayer confidence in the district's ability to manage money.

The Rockwood district came under fire in March when State Auditor Margaret Kelly released a report that showed illegal spending, theft and misuse of tax dollars in the Rockwood district.

Kelly said the district's accounting and budget systems failed to keep pace with the growth of the district.

Oldani, a 24-year veteran of the Francis Howell district in St. Charles County, counts sound financial management of construction and operating budgets high among his achievements.

"When Rockwood came up, it seemed a natural fit," he said. "We've managed growth very well." Francis Howell is the second fastest growing district in the metro area and will start the school year with about 17,000 students.

Rockwood is the fastest growing district in the area with 17,000 students from west St. Louis County and northern Jefferson County. It also has 2,000 voluntary transfer students from St. Louis.

The superintendent's job at Rockwood opened in February when Dennis L. Peterson resigned under fire.

In 1994, Peterson and board members split over the administration's reporting of finances, particularly its building fund and the handling of some contracts.

The board unanimously voted Jan. 16 to seek a separation agreement with Peterson. It suspended him five days later and brought former administrator Tom Krebs out of retirement to serve as acting superintendent.

"Some people would say Dennis Peterson was the fall guy, others would say as superintendent, he has a significant responsibility for the financial well-being of the district," said Rockwood Board President Allen Icet. …

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