Bob Colavita began his career as an accountant in corporate America, but in 1995, he made a complete career change, following his dream to become an elementary school teacher. After several years, he decided to merge his financial and education backgrounds to pursue a career in school business. He began as an assistant business administrator at Hopewell Valley Regional School District in Pennington, New Jersey, in 2002, and since 2007 has been the district’s business administrator.
The learning curve was fairly easy for him. “As a teacher, I knew what went on in school buildings and what was needed for student success,” Bob says. “My teaching experience gave me a certain amount of credibility with other administrators and staff because I understood what they were saying.”
A high-performing school district (and five-time recipient of ASBO’s Certificate of Excellence), Hopewell Valley Regional School District is located in an affluent community and serves approximately 3,600 students in six schools. Bob explains that the district is one of the last ones in the state with a comprehensive high school that not only offers myriad academic disciplines and AP courses, but a program of study that includes related arts such as woodworking and auto shop as well as visual and performing arts.
Although the community values education and is very supportive of the school system, Bob points out that New Jersey has some of the highest property taxes in the nation and a funding formula that has not been fully implemented in many years. “In light of stagnant state funding, the biggest challenge we face is maintaining the quality of our programs while being respectful of the local taxpayer,” Bob says. “It is a difficult balancing act to keep everything that we value as a district.”
Bob remembers to keep things in perspective. One of his proudest achievements as a business administrator was being honored by a local recreation foundation for his role in building a multipurpose turf field and stadium. He’s also proud of the business office’s reputation as a service organization. “We need to remember that others in the district may not understand the regulations we are obliged to follow,” Bob says. “It’s our job to educate and help staff members through the process.”
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