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Howard schools CFO resigns to spend more time with family; district looking to fill the position

Howard schools CFO resigns to spend more time with family; district looking to fill the position
From left, Howard County schools Superintendent Michael Martirano, school board Chairwoman Mavis Ellis and Rafiu O. Ighile, the school system's chief financial officer, discuss the school district's operating budget at a work session with County Council in May. (Jess Nocera / Baltimore Sun Media Group) (Jess Nocera / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

The Howard County Public School System is actively seeking a new chief financial officer, a position which oversees the budget, payroll, benefits and overall finances for the 77-school district.

Rafiu O. Ighile resigned as Howard’s CFO last month, according to Jahantab Siddiqui, the school system’s chief communication community and workforce engagement officer.

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In an interview, Ighile said his reasoning for leaving Howard was “purely family.” A father to six daughters, the oldest being 16, he knew his priority needed to be his family.

“Howard County is a great school system. My decision to leave was based on [my] family. The hours and commitment was a bit much,” Ighile said.

“It occurred to me that, ‘Wow, that I enjoy the job,’ but I don’t think my priorities are right. I need to be there for them [his family].”

Ighile’s, whose last day was June 28, annual salary was $191,900, Siddiqui said.

He joined the school system in August 2017, coming from a decade-long tenure with the county’s Department of Finance as the deputy director.

As the school system’s CFO, Ighile worked with the school board under the direction of schools Superintendent Michael Martirano during the annual budget season. He would answer the school board’s questions as well as provide information.

Ighile assumed the role of the director of finance and administration for the City of Gaithersburg on July 8, according to a news release from the City of Gaithersburg. The position, appointed by the city manager, had been vacant since January after the former director resigned.

“My goal was looking for something less stressful [and] to be there for [my] family,” Ighile said. “And the city seems to have all of that. They have been very welcoming.”

While Ighile received the job offer in May, he knew he needed to fulfill his duties to Howard schools, including seeing the fiscal 2020 budget pass.

“I knew I had to finish what I started,” he said. “I stayed until the budget was passed.”

In June, the school board unanimously adopted a $894.2 million operating budget, a $54.6 million capital budget — both for fiscal 2020 — a $654.6 million capital improvement program for 2021-25, and the 2020-29 $1.12 billion long-range master plan budget. The unanimous approval on June 6 came after a contentious budget season, including the school board having to cut 74 paraeducators positions across elementary and middle school levels.

Howard schools listed a job posting for a CFO on July 2. The salary range for the position is between $190,000 and $227,068, according to the posting.

Qualifications include a master’s degree in finance and/or business administration and five years of comprehensive, related experience. A preferred qualification includes having prior experience as a fiscal or business leader “in a large public school district or other county office of education,” the posting states.

In the interim, Siddiqui is “providing leadership and coordinating the day-to-day work of the business division,” but he has not assumed the role of chief financial officer.

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