40 OCTOBER 2017 | SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS asbointl.org W hen the Great Recession hit, most school districts suffered, and Reeths-Puffer Schools in Muskegon, Michigan, was no exception. Jason Helsen came on board as the district’s finance director at the height of the recession and worked hard to steady the boat. He explains that Reeths-Puffer Schools had to cut millions of dollars out of its budget over the years, all while student enrollment declined, state aid funding was cut, and the district was forced to pay more for pensions. “Beyond the money issue, the job doesn’t get much easier year after year,” Jason says. “State and federal regulations and requirements have increased, and the job has become more technically challenging. The public sector often doesn’t pay as well as the private sector, and that can make it more difficult to attract new people into the profession.” Jason notes that much of school operational fund- ing in Michigan comes through their monthly state aid payments, including about 80% of Reeths-Puffer’s general fund support. And while the impact isn’t as great as it once was, the automobile industry and the “Big 3” are still a significant factor in the state’s economy. “Every January and May, when the state revenue-estimating conference is held, one of the key questions is how vehicle sales are shaping up for the current year,” Jason says. Despite the obstacles, Jason has managed to bring financial stability to his district and uses the benefits of membership in both ASBO International and Michi- gan School Business Officials (MSBO) to broaden and strengthen his skill sets, which in turn benefit his district. “MSBO staff and membership are so committed and involved, and we have a lot of high-quality profes- sional development opportunities,” Jason says. It was through his MSBO network that he discovered ASBO, and he has realized some of the same benefits through his involvement. “I’ve built a network of people that I not only con- sider professional colleagues, but have grown to call friends,” he says. “I’ve been challenged personally and professionally through my involvement in commis- sion work, and I’ve been able to help foster dialogue between ASBO and MSBO, and served as a presenter several times at ASBO’s Annual Meeting & Expo. That experience was so valuable to my growth as an administrator.” “Never stop learning,” Jason says. “There’s some- thing to be learned from everyone in the profession if you’re willing to listen.” Spotlight on Jason Helsen, SFO® Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation 1. Publication Title: School Business Affairs. 2. Publication Number: 0036-651X. 3. Filing Date: October 2017. 4. Issue Frequency: Monthly. 5. No. of Issues Pub- lished Annually: 11. 6. Annual Subscription Price: $95. 7. Mailing Address of Known Of ce of Publication: 11401 North Shore Drive, Reston, VA 20190. 8. Mailing Address of Headquarters: 11401 North Shore Drive, Reston, VA 20190.9. Names and Mailing Addresses of Publisher, Editor, and Managing Edi- tor: Publisher: John D. Musso, RSBA, Association of School Business Of cials International, 11401 North Shore Drive, Reston, VA 20190. 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