Pickerington Times-Sun

Pickerington Local School District

Griscom to retire Feb. 1 as treasurer

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Dan Griscom, the Pickerington Local School District's treasurer since May 2008, announced this week he will retire prior to the end of the 2012-13 school year.

The Pickerington Board of Education on Sept. 24 unanimously accepted Griscom's retirement, effective Feb. 1.

Griscom, who will turn 55 in December, said logic prompted his decision to step away from the district.

After 30 years in education and one year working for the state of Ohio, he was eligible to retire and begin collecting his pension last year.

"This seems to be the most logical time," Griscom said in an interview with ThisWeek Pickerington Times-Sun. "I've got 31 years in.

"I'm going to take a little time for family and I look forward to that."

Board President Lori Sanders said board members will discuss options and a timeline for finding a replacement for Griscom in the near future.

She also lauded Griscom for helping to steer the district through rocky financial times brought on by statewide and nationwide recessions.

"In the past few years, we have undergone many changes due to ever-changing financial conditions and I am personally thankful that we have been able to land on the plus side financially versus the alternative," Sanders said.

Griscom indicated he likely will return to the workforce at some time in the future, but not in Pickerington.

"It's easier to do (retire-rehire) if you retire and go to another district, because there's not as much backlash," he said. "I'll see what opportunities come my way in the next few months and I'll keep my options open.

"I did not want (my retire-rehire decision) to reflect negatively on me or the district."

Last December, Griscom told the Pickerington Board of Education he wished to retire effective Feb. 29, 2012, and seek to be rehired by the board for at least the remainder of the 2011-12 school year.

Had the board agreed, Griscom could have remained employed by the district, receiving his $104,500 annual salary while also beginning to collect his retirement pension.

In addition to his salary, the cost of Griscom's benefits is $29,910 annually, according to the district treasurer's office.

As part of the retire-rehire proposal, Griscom volunteered to have his annual benefits cut to $16,952, a move he and board members said would save the district $12,958.

Two months later, however, he informed board members he was pulling the plug on those plans after hearing criticism from some in the community.

"I've made many friends here," he said. "There are a lot of dedicated and talented people here."

Griscom came to the district after serving as treasurer for Ashland City Schools near Mansfield from fall 2007 to May 2008.

During his tenure in Pickerington, he helped the district extend its streak of receiving a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association, a national professional organization. The district has received the certificate for 20 consecutive years.

Also, the district received the Ohio Auditor's Office Auditor's Award for excellence in financial reporting and having clean audits in each year Griscom has been treasurer.

Amid those commendations, however, the district and school districts throughout the state struggled through financial constraints, which led the school board to cut about $13 million from its budget and lay off 82 teachers and 43 staff members.

In August 2011, local voters responded by passing a 5.5-mill school operating levy.

Griscom said fallout from what he called "the great recession," which began in 2008, as well as changes in the state's formula for public school funding represented the greatest challenges during his time as treasurer.

"We've gone through very challenging financial times, as many districts in Ohio have," he said. "The economy and its impact on the school district, both with state and local funding, have created difficulties.

"We've felt the impact in every area of our revenues."

While the slumping economy created hardships, Griscom said the response by the school board, the district administration and staff, as well as the community, represented the proudest moment of his career.

"We've come through that," he said. "We've all worked through this together in terms of sacrifices we've had to make and getting the levy passed.

"We've been able to survive this. I'm proud about that and the people in this district and community should be. I especially appreciate how staff worked with us in paying more for healthcare and freezing their salaries."

Griscom said he believes he's leaving the district on "solid financial footing," and described his nearly four years in Pickerington as "very gratifying." He added the district should continue to be "conservative and not overly optimistic about what it will receive from the state" as it plots a financial future.

"I've been fortunate to serve here and I look forward to what may come down the road," he said.

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