SANTA CLARITA – Two officials have been named to newly created positions in Santa Clarita’s rapidly growing high school district, as criticism mounts over unexplained construction overspending. Facing a forensic audit of money spent toward building new campuses and renovating older ones, the William S. Hart Union High School District has promoted Sue Guthrie to chief financial officer and Rob Gapper to chief operations officer, district officials said Monday. The pair will be overseeing Hart’s extensive construction schedule as well as budget and overall operations, things that used to be in the job description of former Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Rory Livingston. Livingston, who was unavailable for comment, was ousted last summer after the school board approved a $234,000 contract buyout. For the district, the decision was about efficiency. “The reason we decided to separate the position into a fiscal side and an operations side was to enhance efficiency and accountability in both departments,” Superintendent Jaime Castellanos said. “Doing both jobs by one person is difficult and challenging and my thought in looking at the split is simply to allow the two people hired to narrow their focus to perform specific jobs they will be responsible for.” Guthrie, who started with Hart in 1986 as accounting supervisor, has worked her way up and will be in charge of the district’s finance and budget operations including payroll, negotiations and warehouse services as chief financial officer. “If I was running a business and needed someone to work in accounting, Sue Guthrie would be the first person I would consider,” board President Paul Strickland said. Gapper, principal at Placerita Junior High, also is a licensed contractor. He will be overseeing construction and renovation and those budgets as well as operations and transportation. “I see my new role in the district as building into the organization some checks and balances, some accountability,” he said. “I will facilitate greater communication throughout the governing board and to some degree the community.” Gapper plans to establish new protocols for project and resource management, and acknowledges that much work is ahead. “I have never been afraid to do work,” he said. email@example.com (661) 257-5254160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe joys and headaches of holiday travel: John Phillips“Livingston was asked to leave the district after the board lost confidence in his ability to properly administer projects,” Hart board member Dennis King said. At a board meeting last week, members had a lengthy discussion about decisions made by Livingston that have resulted in unexpected architect and design fees, board members said. Also, they said, some decisions were made by Livingston without board approval, and some the board approved but without all the necessary information. Two administrators will take over Livingston’s duties. The Hart district is growing rapidly and has several construction projects planned including some complex renovations. “We have grown to a size that warrants two individuals with different skill sets to handle the business side and the facility aspects of our district separately with a need to work together for long-term planning,” said board member Steve Sturgeon.
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