Member Spotlight from August 31, 2017
“Education always took the forefront of importance in our family when I was growing up,” says Tim Erickson, who first became interested in school business in 1999 when he applied for a director of business services position in his native Minnesota. “I found there were endless opportunities to get involved in a career that had a tremendous amount of meaning—student learning.” Tim later moved across the river from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Hudson School District in Hudson, Wisconsin, where he has served as the chief financial and operating officer for 11 years.
Tim says that when he first came to Hudson, he was charged with addressing space for a burgeoning school population. At the time, the administrative offices were in a wing of an over-capacity high school and the elementary population was growing rapidly.
“The next year, we purchased, rezoned, and built out an office building for administrative services, passed a referendum to build a new elementary school, and negotiated land annexation with the city to bring public utilities to the new school,” Tim says. “During and after the recession, the district was faced with funding uncertainty. We experienced three separate years of 10% or greater reductions in state aid, which resulted in budget cuts for the first time in two decades.” He notes that most reductions were fortunately kept away from the classroom.
Several years ago, Tim began researching self-funded health and dental insurance. He hired a trustworthy consultant who was independent of the procurement process, enlisted the help of a knowledgeable brokerage team, and recruited representation from all classes of employees. “Over the last four years, we have averaged a 2% annual increase for our health insurance,” Tim says. “In the first year of implementation, we saved over $2 million, our largest cost savings tool.” In addition, benefit levels remained the same, which helped the district retain and attract staff. Of course, Tim is quick to credit the collaborative efforts of the district’s administrative and financial teams. “My accomplishments are actually ‘our’ accomplishments,” he says.
Tim stays true to the importance of keeping education at the forefront. “This past year, I mentored a student in one of our elementary buildings,” he says. “It refreshed my perspective of why I chose the career I am in. I truly believe I get as much from it as my student does.”