Peoria Unified CFO to leave district

PUSD CFO Kenneth Hicks accepted a position at Dysart Unified School District.

Hicks accepts position at Dysart Unified

By Philip Haldiman, Independent Newsmedia

Peoria Unified’s Chief Finance Officer Kenneth Hicks is leaving at the end of the school year but that should have no impact on a committee he oversees that is tasked with bringing a bond to the governing board for consideration, officials said.

Mr. Hicks chairs the Citizens’ Bond Advisory Committee, which is working to recommend a bond measure for the elected board to consider putting before voters in November. The last time the board attempted a bond measure — a $198 million bond in 2016 — voters shot it down.

Spokeswoman Danielle Airey said the committee is expected to wrap-up their work this month, and Mr. Hicks’ departure should not affect the work.

Mr. Hicks has accepted a position for the assistant superintendent of Business Services at Dysart Unified School District in Surprise. His last day at Peoria is scheduled for June 30, and his first day at Dysart will be July 1, where his annual salary  will be $112,245.

The departure leaves Peoria Unified’s top two positions — superintendent and CFO — yet undetermined permanently. The Peoria governing board fired former Superintendent Darwin Stiffler on Dec. 7 and appointed Linda Palles Thompson interim superintendent while a search is underway to fill the position permanently. Officials hope to have the superintendent position filled this summer.

Ms. Airey said the process for filling the CFO position has not yet been determined, but it will not involve an outside firm as is being done for the superintendent position.

Mr. Hicks has been Peoria’s CFO since 2013.

Before that he was the executive director of business for Littleton Elementary School District, covering Avondale and Tolleson, for three years. He began his career at Dysart Unified as the finance director for nearly six years.

Mr. Hicks has served on Gov. Doug Ducey’s Classroom First Initiative Council, held the position of president for the Arizona Association School Board of Business Officials, and has served on the Auditor General School Finance Committee.

Longtime Dysart Superintendent Gail Pletnick, who will retire at the end of the school year, recommended Mr. Hicks for the job.

Mr. Hicks said he was offered an exciting opportunity to use his expertise working alongside a proven leader in public education, Quinn Kellis, who will take over for Ms. Pletnick on July 1. Mr. Kellis currently serves as the superintendent of the Madison School District in Phoenix, and previously served in Dysart as an assistant superintendent.

Mr. Hicks looks forward to returning to where his career began. He said Dysart is a well-oiled machine, and jumping on board makes it even more difficult than his previous districts.

“Ten years ago someone at Dysart cared about me and invested time and energy in me and gave me a belief and faith that I could do more. When I saw this opportunity to come back to the place where it really sent my career going forward, I was so grateful,” Mr. Hicks said.



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