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Mike Manuel, Dothan City Schools chief financial officer, addresses school board members on Thursday during a work session addressing the upcoming budget for the school year.

The Dothan City School Board will be seeking a new chief school financial officer as soon as next week.

The board is expected to accept the retirement of long-serving CSFO Mike Manuel at Monday night’s meeting and agree to allow Superintendent Phyllis Edwards and Chief Operations Officer Dennis Coe to work collaboratively with the Alabama Association of School Boards to seek a replacement and determine next steps.

Manuel, who recently turned 65, said his retirement was simply a “good move financially” at this time.

“I’ve enjoyed my time with Dothan City Schools,” he said Thursday. “They’ve treated me and my family well. There are a lot of good people here, and I wish the system success moving forward.”

Manuel said he is happy to be leaving the system in good financial standing after difficult decisions by the school board and Edwards allowed the general fund to maintain a one-month’s operating balance for the first time in several years.

At the end of 2019, the school system is expected to have a 1.5 months operating balance, more than the minimum required by the state.

Manuel has served in the same capacity with the school system for 28 years since starting in 1992 after leaving the position of financial director for Orange County Schools in Orlando. His retirement will be official Jan. 1, 2020.

Edwards said that Manuel’s departure is certainly on a high note and she is thankful for his loyal service.

The position of CSFO is one of two that are the direct responsibility of the school board to fill. The other is the superintendent.

There are several steps in the search for the next CSFO, including determining a timeline, creating a job description with a salary range, and reviewing a proposed contract.

Board members will narrow a pool of candidates before interviews.

Because of the upcoming holidays and short time frame for hiring a candidate, the board will likely hire an interim consultant to take over some CSFO duties before the job is filled.

“This is not something we want to rush,” Edwards said.

The AASB will get input from the school board about the kind of candidate it’s looking for to tailor the search supported by a committee, but the hiring process is completed by the board.

The vote to begin the process was delayed after not enough board members were present at Thursday’s meeting for a quorum.

Franklin Jones, Amy Bonds, Brenda Guilford and Chris Maddox were not present at the work session.

Additionally, a new amendment to board policy that would affect school-affiliated organizations was changed before being presented to the board.

Previously, the proposed policy would require that all organizations come under the purview of the school board so that the board would have a supervisory function to prevent mishandling of finances.

Organizations would then be able to take advantage of the school’s tax-exempt status and be subject to the school system’s annual audit.

Now, organizations that are already following state guidelines by obtaining nonprofit status have a fidelity bond for its treasurer and undergoing an annual audit will not have to bring their finances under the board, if they so choose.

Edwards said the change was made after the board listened to the concerns of some booster club presidents who did not believe the change would benefit them, but could hinder them unnecessarily.

The vote was deferred to Monday’s meeting.

The vote to move forward with the TRANE Energy Services contract in the amount of $11.9 million was also tabled.

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