Schools finance officer is PTSA Educator of the Year

June 1, 2010

By Chantelle Lusebrink

At their annual luncheon May 20, members of the districtwide Issaquah Parents, Teachers and Students Association awarded Jacob Kuper, the Issaquah School District’s chief executive of finance and operations, their Educator of the Year Award.

Jacob Kuper, the Issaquah School District’s chief executive of finance and operations, received the districtwide Parents, Teachers and Students Association Educator of the Year Award from President Heather Gillette. By Sara Niegowski

“Our Educator of the Year award is important, because it goes to someone who goes above and beyond at the district level to not just be a steward of educating our children, but to someone that educates our community and families about the educational process,” PTSA President Heather Gillette said.

“Jake has been instrumental in that through his financial management, but also by making the community aware of what is going on at the district and state levels financially,” she said.

The luncheon, at Tibbetts Creek Manor, is an end-of-the-year celebration for PTSA members and district officials.

It’s Kuper’s strength in strong fiscal management that has enabled the district to weather unprecedented economic cutbacks from the state and federal governments, Gillette said. Without that leadership, children wouldn’t have the same education they have in Issaquah.

“By managing resources and advocating for funding of public education, I believe we can provide every child with an education that will ensure they have the opportunity to be successful,” said Kuper, a father of two. “I believe education is the bedrock of our society and that is why I am so passionate about it.”

Kuper graduated from Eatonville High School in 1998 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in business and accounting from Oregon State University in 2002. In 2006, he earned his master’s in business administration from Pacific Lutheran University.

After graduation, he went to work for the state Auditor’s Office, where he conducted audits on government entities, including school districts, which gave him a better understanding of how to responsibly manage them financially.He also worked as an internal auditor for an Australian company that handled hotels in Sydney.

He was hired by the district in 2004 as director of accounting and was promoted to his current position when Dean Mack, former director of finance, retired in 2007.

Kuper has taken the sound financial foundation Mack created and built an even stronger one to lead the district into the future, Gillette said.

During his tenure, he has managed to keep a balanced $150 million operating budget during unprecedented state spending reductions and the economic recession.

In the six years he has been working with the district, he has received eight clean audits from the state, including this year’s state and federal audit, which looked at the district’s fiscal responsibility for the 2008-09 school year.

He has also kept the district’s administrative overhead costs the lowest of any district in King County, according to county records.

Through that work, he has helped the district earn the highest bond rating on the Moody’s scale of any public school district in the state and has guided budgets for two major bond and levy campaigns for the district.

In managing the district’s resources responsibly and by keeping costs down, Kuper said, he is able to help drive more dollars into the classroom for students and teachers.

It’s that passion that drives him to continue the fight for education funding at the regional and state levels.

In that role, he has helped fight against the state to provide full funding for special-education services at the state supreme court level, reduce fees for the county’s investment pools, and ensured law makers uphold and increase local level authority and maintain the state’s maintenance and operations levy base.

Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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