New school district business manager ready for a challenge

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Sunnyside School District's new business manager, Jeff Loe, began work on Monday, Sept. 20. Loe cites that his goal is to ensure that the Sunnyside School District is "financially stable" to do everything it needs to do to serve its students.

Jeff Loe does not shy away from a challenge and make no mistake; Loe's new position with the Sunnyside School District will be an exciting new challenge for this Grand Coulee native.

Loe was born in Tonasket, but he claims Grand Coulee as his hometown. After receiving his education in the small school district, Loe graduated from Lake Roosevelt High School and set out on a path that would take him across the Pacific Northwest and far beyond.

After high school, Loe attended Wenatchee Community College. He played basketball for the school's team, but after two years Loe looked for a change and he found an opportunity in Billings, Mont.

While attending Eastern Montana College, Loe's hopes for a greater challenge were dashed when it became clear he would get very little playing time. While he finished out his third year of college in Billings, Loe sought another school that might provide more court time.

For his final year of college, Loe relocated to George Fox University in Newberg, Ore.

But while Loe was seeking the best place to play the sport he loved, he never let his academics fall behind. Though he played for three different colleges, by the end of his four years, Loe had successfully earned a B.S. in business.

Loe states that the appeal of majoring in business had been a hope that he might one day own his own business.

But being a business owner was not Loe's first stop. He still had a passion for the sport he loved and an amazing opportunity for a new challenge soon followed college.

Loe is reluctant to say he played professional basketball in France, but he made ends meet playing the sport he loved. For four years in Troyes, and another two in Ste. Maxine, Loe was provided an apartment, his travel paid for and he received a living stipend.

While Loe did not speak French, he managed to get along well, and he also took advantage of his time in Europe to explore other countries such as Italy, Belgium and Greece.

"It was a very different experience," Loe recalled. "It was a good experience... [but] I missed the United States."

Loe returned to the U.S. after six years abroad. His basketball playing days were behind him and Loe was ready to find himself a career he could count on.

Loe was lured back to his home state and soon found work with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. He began by managing multiple accounts and quickly gained valuable experience with federal auditors and programs.

During this time, Loe embarked on a new challenge: marriage and family.

Loe married Lisa, a member of the confederated tribes. Together the duo raised two children, Jessica, currently a senior at Eastern Washington Univeristy, and Tanner, a freshman at Bellevue Community College.

But Loe's career continued to evolve and he soon found himself employed with the Nespelem School District on the reservation.

With this K-8 school, Loe became something of a one-man fiscal office, acting as business manager, along with accounts payable and payroll.

"The everyday process was just me," Loe said, but then, it was a small district. Currently, the Nespelem School District boasts a student body of just 166 children. At the time, Loe dealt with a school budget of just $2 million.

After nine years serving with the Nespelem School District, Loe sought yet another new challenge, and a bigger school district, and so he returned to his hometown.

Loe took on the job as business manager for the Grand Coulee School District. With approximately 600 students, K-12, the district was significantly larger.

But Loe's service with the Grand Coulee School District quickly took on a new role. After losing the district's superintendent, Loe volunteered to fill the void. After all, it would be only for one year, and the superintendent duties would be something he could do on the side.

But one year soon stretched into four, and Loe's "side" duties soon overshadowed his position as business manager.

Eventually, the district hired a new superintendent, but problems followed. In an attempt to cut costs, the superintendent and business manager positions were relegated to part-time.

Loe continued to work for the school district four days a week, but, yet again, his eye wandered and he began to look for a new challenge.

And that challenge was to be found in Sunnyside.

From 600 students to 6,000; from an $8 million budget to $110 million, the Sunnyside School District will certainly be a new challenge for Loe.

But it is not the higher student enrollment, or even the bigger budget, that Loe feels he'll need to get used to.

"I'm so used to doing everything," Loe said, referencing his former roles as a "one-man fiscal office" and a superintendent.

With the Sunnyside School District, Loe has all the assistance he could every need.

"That's going to be an adjustment," he admitted.

But for now, Loe has a very clearly defined purpose.

"My biggest goal," he revealed, "is to ensure the Sunnyside School District has enough funds to run all our programs to the best of their ability."

But Loe has the foresight to understand obstacles to his goals, noting that state revenues are down and that Washington schools could possibly feel the harrowing effects.

Whatever fate awaits Sunnyside School District's budget, Loe says he knows how best to handle it: educating the people.

For good news, or bad, Loe wants people to understand why changes in the budgets are made and how those changes affect them.

But for now, Loe is just settling into his new position. He began work officially on Monday, Sept. 20, and he is already submerging himself in his work.



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