Generally, in the world of education, business services is synonymous with finance/accounting. With an operating budget of more than $150,000,000, that is certainly a main component of Fargo Public Schools (FPS) Business Services; however, our Business Services is structured in such a way that it is so much more!
The following departments all fall under the umbrella of FPS Business Services: Accounting, Operations & Maintenance, Nutrition Services, Transportation, Print Shop, and Human Resources. Generally speaking, business services encompasses all of the operational components that are not a “direct” connection to the educational component of our school district. The word “direct” is in quotation marks, because ultimately, we are all here to serve students and provide the right environment for learning.
Here is a closer look at each department and how we assist in serving the entire District to positively impact student learning:
Operations & Maintenance: Jim Frueh is the Director of Operations & Maintenance and oversees all components of the FPS facilities. Within this department are functions such as building trades (plumber, locksmith, electricians, carpenter, HVAC); grounds crew (responsible for all of the upkeep of the green spaces District-wide), parking lots (including snow removal); playground maintenance and repair, and warehouse and delivery, which provide for material supply distribution District-wide. Additionally, District security/safety, building engineers and custodial staff for all 27 District facilities also reside under the umbrella of Operations & Maintenance.
Nutrition Services: Cindy Hogenson is the Director of Nutrition Services and is responsible for the entire food service programming District-wide. Fargo Public Schools maintains a central kitchen that prepares and delivers (with assistance from Operations & Maintenance) meals to each elementary school daily. This includes both breakfast and lunch. The central kitchen also provides raw product to the middle schools and high schools for preparation daily. More than 9,000 meals are served daily to FPS students. Nutrition Services is also responsible for compliance with all of the USDA guidelines, administering the Free & Reduced Lunch application process, and monitoring all special dietary requests impacting students District-wide.
Transportation: Chris Pinkney is the Transportation Coordinator for FPS. The District contracts with Valley Bus for transportation services; however, Chris is responsible to develop all of the bus routes on an annual basis, track and report annual rides and mileage to the state for transportation reimbursement through the foundation aid formula, be the initial point of contact for patron transportation concerns/questions, and work collaboratively with Valley Bus to provide for the overall safe and effective transportation of up to 8,000 eligible FPS students every school day.
Print Shop: Allen Kukert is the Print Shop manager and he oversees the operation of print services District-wide. Fargo Public Schools operates a central print shop in which we provide what equates to commercial print services internally to the all faculty and staff. Last year, the FPS Print Shop produced more than 22 million printed impressions, from parent letters to curriculum booklets. This also requires delivery to all building locations, once again with the assistance of Operations & Maintenance.
Human Resources: Brittnee Nikle is the Director of Human Resources for FPS. This department works with all employees to administer payroll, benefits, recruitment, retention, job classification, performance management, federal and state legal employment compliance, and workers compensation (in collaboration with the safety component of Operations & Maintenance). As the fourth largest employer in the city of Fargo, this department requires a great deal of attention to maintain all employment aspects of an organization of this size.
Accounting: Jackie Gapp is the FPS Director of Accounting. This department is responsible for the overall financial administration of the District, which includes: accounts payable, accounts receivable, budget development and monitoring, audit, cash management, grant administration, and centralized purchasing. There is a great amount of state and federal compliance required with the financial components of the District, as well as state and federal reporting. Our District consistently earns financial reporting awards for accuracy, transparency, and compliance.
As I work with the FPS leadership team and all employees in Business Services, we subscribe to a philosophy that the most important word in Business Services is “Services.” We are here to serve all of the constituents of the Fargo Public School District. This includes all employees, parents, taxpayers, and most importantly, the students. It is our goal to effectively administer the services necessary to provide for a safe and well-maintained learning environment, making it easier for all involved in the education of students to carry out the mission of our school district to “Educate and Empower All Students to Succeed.”