Patty Bedborough, SFO
Patty Bedborough serves as chief financial officer of Parkway School District where she manages an operating budget of approximately $240 million. Located in metropolitan St. Louis, Missouri, the district includes 28 K–12 schools: four high schools, five middle schools, and 18 elementary schools. It also includes an Early Childhood Center and several satellite locations placed in and near current schools.
Bedborough’s journey to CFO began in corporate accounting and finance. She spent her early career in international finance, corporate consolidations, and budget and forecasting. Sixteen years ago she entered the school finance and business field.
A working mom with two young children, Bedborough was looking for a rewarding opportunity with less travel. “It just so happened a neighboring school district, Northwest School District, had an opening for a director of finance,” Bedborough remembers. She spent the next 12 years at Northwest, continually earning promotions and added responsibilities. Four years ago, she moved from the small Northwest School District to the large Parkway School District, where she became CFO.
At Parkway, she is not only responsible for the business and finance department, but also for facilities, purchasing and sustainability, nutritional services, transportation, and technology and innovation.
Parkway School District’s enrollment is 17,600. The district boasts many academic awards, including being a Blue Ribbon School and a National District of Character. Many schools within the district have been recognized as schools of character. Parkway also includes two Green Ribbon Schools and two Lighthouse Schools.
Parkway School District has the highest assessed valuation of any school district in the state of Missouri. Its highest source of revenue is local property tax revenue. But Bedborough’s biggest challenge in recent years has been flat revenue.
“In the past few years, the very low consumer price index has equated to very low growth of our revenues year over year,” she says. “We currently have a board policy to grow our fund balances because currently we run out of funds in the fall and have to borrow using Tax Anticipated Notes.”
Parkway’s challenge is providing exceptional learning opportunities for students, attracting and retaining highly qualified staff, and managing operating expenses. In order to overcome this challenge, Bedborough has embraced zero-based budgeting.
“We have an enrollment that is growing slightly; hence, we need to increase the number of full-time instructional employees. We also need to remain competitive in our salaries and benefit packages. As far as benefits, we are highly engaged with wellness for our staff. We are currently exploring a nearby site clinic for our employees,” Bedborough says.
In addition to payroll costs, Bedborough has also focused on sustainability as part of Parkway’s strategic plan. “We have integrated several energy-saving projects in our district in order to save operational dollars. Over the past four years we have saved well over $1 million versus previous spending levels. In addition, we have a fleet of 40 buses that are fueled by compressed natural gas (CNG.) This provides a remarkable fuel savings versus the cost of diesel fuel…We have helped to provide cleaner air and save true operating dollars,” she says.
Bedborough values the professional development and connection to other school business officials that ASBO International provides. “My favorite ASBO event so far was the Eagle Institute two summers ago. We were in Williamsburg and learned all about the battle of Yorktown. What was compelling about this was the way we were able to collaborate and apply the success and the challenges to our current realities of our districts,” says Bedborough. “There is no professional network that provides professional growth opportunities like ASBO.”