Earning a bachelor’s degree in International Studies, Heather Clabaugh worked in marketing for the Frederick Keys before earning an MBA and managing construction budgets in the private sector. Since joining FCPS, her skill and work ethic led to her current role as Budget Officer.
In one of my first meetings with our new Budget Officer, I noticed that she took notes with a sharpened No. 2 pencil. When I commented that I seldom saw people with pencils in meetings anymore, she smiled and noted that there is nothing like working with a sharp No. 2 pencil. I think that reflects her commitment to accuracy and precision and maybe a little bit of nostalgia?
Frederick County Public Schools operates with a budget of more than half a billion dollars. The public relies on FCPS to be stewards of the taxpayers’ funds. As Budget Officer, Heather is charged with ensuring that funds are spent appropriately and accounted for properly. While she is present at every meeting during the presentation of the Superintendent’s Budget and through the final approval by the Board of Education, the work of the Budget Officer happens throughout the year.
The Budget Office is typically working with budgets that cross 3 fiscal years—closing out the previous year, monitoring the current year, and preparing for the upcoming fiscal year. Heather has 3 people in her office. One oversees all grant funding; one monitors all personnel and associated costs; and a secretary supports all of their work. Heather describes the work of the office as constantly being in “customer service mode.” They provide support to staff in every department who manage budgets and provide internal controls to ensure accuracy in everyone’s work.
While she brought lots of experience to the role, Heather said there was still a lot of learning to do. She appreciates the opportunity to connect with staff in various departments so that she can learn more, particularly about the instructional side of the organization. She also realized quickly that she has to be prepared to “change direction” frequently during the course of a day—never knowing which question or request may come her way.
In addition to liking her No. 2 pencils, Heather noted that another thing she loves about her job is that “numbers don’t lie.” And that is why having a Budget Officer committed to accuracy and transparency is so important to FCPS!
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