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Kalispell Public Schools hires new finance director

Kalispell Public Schools hires new finance director

Feb. 22—Denise Williams was set to be appointed Tuesday as the district clerk for Kalispell Public Schools Tuesday after being hired as the new finance director.

Williams joins the district from her position as executive director of the Montana Association of Business Officials in Helena where she has worked since 2012. Previous to that position, she was administrator of the Montana Office of Public Instruction School Finance Division from March 2005 to 2012. Williams earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Montana State University and is a licensed certified public accountant.

Williams replaces Lacey Porrovecchio, who was initially hired in December to replace outgoing finance director and district clerk Gwyn Andersen whose resignation was approved in November. Once on the job, however, Porrovecchio decided it wasn’t the right fit and resigned in January. She returned to her previous position as the Bigfork School District clerk and business manager.

“That job was going to take more time than I realized,” Porrovecchio said. “I still have kids at home, my youngest is in fifth grade and my husband is the athletic director here [Bigfork School District] and he’s really busy.”

In the interim between both hirings, Kalispell Superintendent Micah Hill and Administrative Assistant Beth Kornick covered the director and clerk position responsibilities.

Initially, four candidates were interviewed for the position, which included Dustin Zuffelato from Columbia Falls School District and Debra Anderson from Polson School District. A 10-member search committee was involved in the hiring process.

Andersen was in her 12th year with the district when she stepped down from the position. Her official retirement in May wraps up a 37-year career working in school business and finance for the lifelong Montana resident.

During her tenure, she was responsible for overseeing a district budget that surpassed $90 million when looking at both budgeted and cash funds. Additionally, Kalispell Public Schools underwent significant enrollment growth, which is tied to state funding, and expanded its physical footprint through elementary and high school bond issues totaling more than $54 million. She was also involved in the process of forming a self-funded insurance plan for the district and opening of an off-site primary care health clinic for staff in efforts to control costs and encourage staff to seek preventative care.

Outside of budgets and construction, Andersen reflected on what she was proud to be part of during her time at the district.

“Probably what I’m most proud of is that currently five of the women who trained under me in Kalispell Public Schools are now district clerks within the Flathead Valley,” Andersen said. “I was also a statewide trainer on school budgets — most of it under the Montana Association of School Business Officials.”

Since stepping down, Andersen said her free time has opened up significantly and she looks forward to what lies ahead in retirement.

“Oh yeah, a lot of free time. The 60-70 hour weeks — I’m glad to be done with that,” she said with a laugh. “I’m looking forward to just doing the things I enjoy doing.”

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 406-758-4431 or by email at [email protected].