Candidate for Director
Assistant Superintendent of Business Services
Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District
Tom Wohlleber is the Assistant Superintendent of Business Services for the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District. He has served as a school business administrator for the past 27 years. He has been an active member of the Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials (WASBO) for the past 26 years and served in numerous leadership capacities including president. Tom is a long-time member of ASBO and has served on the Purchasing & Supply Management and Risk Management Committees. Tom earned his BS degree in Business Administration and Economics from UW - La Crosse and his MS Ed degree in School Business Management from UW - Whitewater.
Tom has been recognized by WASBO with its two highest awards, the Wallace E. Zastrow Award and Wisconsin School Business Official of the Year. In 2010, Tom was honored by ASBO International with the Distinguished Professional Eagle Award.
Today’s educational leaders face more complex challenges than ever before in providing for a quality educational system that maximizes student achievement while meeting the needs of all students. With these challenges, however, come opportunities. ASBO International has and will continue to play a critical role in helping its members successfully address these challenges and explore new opportunities by:
- Delivering world-class professional development through multiple means
- Identifying, sharing and highlighting best practices and innovation
- Focusing on professionalism and leadership
- Facilitating the sharing of knowledge, expertise and creative solutions available from ASBO’s valuable corporate partners
- Coordinating and integrating efforts and initiatives with ASBO affiliates
- Fostering opportunities for collaboration, networking and mentoring
As an international professional association, ASBO has a unique opportunity to capitalize on a global perspective, to become a stronger organization and to better serve its membership. It is vital that we take advantage of this opportunity - our students are counting on us!
Schools today are serving a more diverse student population than ever before. There are increased expectations for educational reform, for raising student test scores, and for preparing students for a world that none of us could have ever imagined. At the same time, resources continue to decline. How best can school business officials help their school systems effectuate these changes?
School systems are realizing, now more than ever before, the tremendous value that a qualified school business official can bring. SBOs play a vital leadership role in helping their school systems create vision and effectuate change. SBOs can help create vision and effectuate change by:
Analyzing student demographics - Facilitating the analysis of student demographics to develop a clearer understanding of student needs is an important role that the SBO can perform. Demographic information can be a very important factor in a school system’s decision-making process regarding programs and services. For example, upon understanding the number and location of students with limited English proficiency, the SBO can work closely with the school system’s ELL/Bi-lingual coordinator to determine the most cost effective means of providing the services needed by this group of students.
Implementing strategies to improve operational efficiency -
Operational savings achieved through efficiency can be redirected to
support educational reform, learning initiatives and/or address student
needs. Examples of strategies that can be utilized include continuous
quality improvement and lean practices.
Exploring opportunities for new revenue sources - Traditional sources of revenue for school systems have generally remained stagnant or have declined in recent years. The SBO can lead the effort to explore new sources of revenue such as establishing an educational foundation, grant writing, advertising, naming rights, fund raising, student fees or facility use charges.
Facilitating data collection, analysis and reporting - With today’s focus on assessment, student achievement and accountability in education, it is critical for school systems to have an effective means of collecting, analyzing and reporting data. SBOs can demonstrate leadership by providing school staff, especially principals and teachers, with the appropriate tools and knowledge to access and analyze data to positively affect student achievement. SBOs can also utilize their skills to assist with the reporting of data to school boards, parents and public.
Serving as a resource to School Improvement Teams - The formation of School Improvement Teams has been an important component of school reform for many school systems. The SBO can support the efforts of school improvement teams by presenting relevant budgetary information, providing an understanding of school finance/funding and assisting with the evaluation of instructional programs or initiatives.
It is also very important for today’s SBO to be familiar with current educational research, curriculum initiatives, common core state standards and instructional technology initiatives.
The American educational system is continually being compared to those in other countries. Comparisons include student achievement, length of student day, funding, and facilities. Looking at other countries to which we have been compared, is there any one country’s educational system, or bits and pieces from countries that seem to “get it,” that the United States could use as a model for educational reform?
K-12 education plays a vital role in creating a more globally competent society and workforce. Innovative and creative educational methods must be continuously explored and employed to provide a quality global educational experience for our students.
According to the Creating a World-Class Education System in
Ohio report, “detailed research on many of the
world’s highest-performing educational systems reveals that they
shared three mutually reinforcing attributes, which ensure system
alignment and deliver high levels of student achievement:
• High challenge - Sets high expectations for student achievement for those people most responsible for it (students, teachers, principals, superintendents)
• High support - Provides the necessary resources for and builds the capabilities of those same people to ensure that they can meet high expectations
• Aligned incentives - Includes both positive incentives and negative consequences for meeting (or failing to meet) expectations.”
Most countries that are recognized for their high performing educational systems consider education an important cultural value and place a very high priority on education. Not only do these countries have a great respect for education, their educators are highly respected by their students and society. This makes setting high expectations for students and educators and providing the support needed to achieve these expectations less divisive and more obtainable.
Examples of strategies or practices utilized by countries with high
performing educational systems that the United States could use to
reform or improve its educational system include lengthier academic
year; alignment with post-secondary education; focus on multiple
language competency and science, technology, engineering and math
instruction; robust teacher education and educator development programs;
and extensive access to, and integration of, technology into the
The school business official typically wears a number of “hats,” having to be a generalist in educational support rather than a specialist in budget, as most would think. While budget and financial management are the main functions of the SBO, many SBOs spend a majority of their time dealing with a variety of other issues. Given the wide range of knowledge and expertise the SBO must have, how best can ASBO International prepare its members for the SBO “world of work?”
Similar to the school business official who is faced with the challenge of multiple responsibilities and roles associated with his/her position, ASBO faces the challenge of appropriately supporting the diverse needs and expectations of its members. In an era of limited financial resources, time constraints, increased expectations and accountability, ASBO International must remain committed to providing quality programs, services and professional development opportunities through methods and at a cost that its members continue to realize “value.”
I believe that ASBO’s efforts to help prepare its members for their ever-changing “world of work” can continue to be successful by:
Communicating with its members -
Continually seeking input from and listening to its members is an
important element in the effective alignment of ASBO professional
development offerings, programs and services with the needs of its
Coordinating professional development and mentoring with ASBO affiliates - Working together, wherever practical, and avoiding duplication of services to best serve both ASBO and ASBO affiliate members should continue to be a priority. Coordination of program development and delivery, and developing or supporting mentoring programs with ASBO affiliates are examples of win-win strategies.
Collaborating with other professional associations or organizations that support specific functions being performed by school business officials - Other professional associations or organizations such as the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing, Public School Risk Institute, Professional Risk Managers International Association, American Association of School Personnel Administrators, School Nutrition Association and National Association of Pupil Transportation provide programs and professional development to a number of ASBO members. Enhancing collaboration with these groups would provide ASBO with more opportunities to better serve its members.
Utilizing Technology - Technology has
become an extremely important means for ASBO to efficiently and
effectively deliver targeted professional development; facilitate
problem-solving and the sharing of resources, innovative ideas and best
practices; promote member communication and networking; and keep members
well informed. It is essential that ASBO continue embracing the
use of technology to serve the needs of its members and to remain a