Member Spotlight from March 29, 2018
In 1988, Cindy Foley entered the world of school business officials in an unsuspecting way: as a substitute for the superintendent’s secretary at Evergreen Elementary in Kalispell, Montana. Within a year she was hired as a secretary for the Special Services Department. She then received promotion after promotion, becoming an assistant clerk, administrative assistant, and business manager for a special education cooperative.
Finally, in 2003, she took on her current role as the business manager/district clerk for West Valley School District in Kalispell, Montana.
Now celebrating her 15-year anniversary there, Foley can look back and see the great amount of growth the district has experienced during her tenure. The K–8 district currently serves 621 students on one campus. When Foley began, enrollment was just 333 students.
The growth did not come without challenge. “Space became a very real concern for us in 2010 and our bond request of $4.8 million failed,” Foley remembers. “We came back to the voters in 2013 with a $6.8 million bond request for a middle school wing and it passed. We are very appreciative to our community for the great conversation, planning, and this new wing of our facility.”
Foley credits her Montana ASBO colleagues with giving her feedback and support through challenging periods. “The opportunity to have been mentored by some very knowledgeable, professional people through the years has been invaluable to me,” Foley says. “I have felt the need to ‘pay if forward’ within our organization, and through the confidence and votes of my colleagues, I became a regional representative, then vice president, and now president of our association.”
Foley’s advice to other school business officials is to get involved in the ASBO International community. “All folks have something to offer and I would encourage folks to mentor those new to the profession and for those new business officials to ask for a mentor,” Foley says. “I don't have all the answers—no one does—but that's where the ‘team’ comes in and we can put out a call for help so we don't have to recreate the wheel.”
Foley became a member of ASBO when she was voted onto the Montana ASBO board. “I felt I could use some other perspective outside of our state and have found the ASBO International annual conference to be very valuable. It has been good to broaden my views on our field beyond the state of Montana,” she says.
“All of us have a very unique challenge in some way. Why not broaden our knowledge base? I really appreciate the School Business Leader, School Business Affairs, and of course the annual conference. Without ASBO International, I never would have met some of the fine people I have, had the vendor face-to-face contact [that led me] to implement credit card payments in our district or a substitute administrative system, and to bring back great conversation starters with our own association,” Foley says.
“Working in school business has been so rewarding to me. I still get my kid fix on a daily basis at school and I work with a team that goes above and beyond, both at my local school level and at the board level with Montana ASBO.”