MUSCATINE, Iowa–Tom Anderson, director of finance and budget for Muscatine Community School District, has dedicated his career to helping schools manage their budgets effectively. For his 20 years in school finance and his ongoing commitment to helping MCSD manage their money responsibly, Anderson earned the Iowa Association of School Business Officials’ Professional Leadership Award.
After working as an accountant in various private sector positions, Anderson began exploring a career as a school director of finance. Growing up, Anderson’s aunt worked for his district’s superintendent’s office and his mother worked as a district custodian, introducing him to some of the work that goes on in a district. When Anderson began looking at a job in school finance, his next door neighbor worked as the local school finance director, so they discussed what that kind of career looked like over lunch. Intrigued, Anderson interviewed for several positions and accepted one as West Liberty Community School District’s school business officer. Anderson worked for West Liberty for 16 years. During that time, he gained certification as an authorized school business official, a certification he continues to maintain through professional development.
When Anderson learned that Muscatine Community School District’s director of finance and budget, Jean Garner, planned to retire in 2016, he applied for the job and got it. Since then, he has managed the district’s approximately $77 million budget, correctly allocating federal and state grants, ensuring that all projects cash flow, and creating and certifying the annual budget and financial reports. Anderson also oversees the six other members of the finance department.
A challenging position, Anderson enjoys his work and his ability to help Muscatine Community School District serve its students. “Although I do not have direct contact with students, I like the feeling of having a small part in the education of students, by helping administrators with their budgets, finding or suggesting resources that can be used for certain expenditures, and working towards a common goal of educating students in the Muscatine Community School District,” he shared.
Upon learning that he had earned the 2020 IASBO’s 2020 Professional Leadership Award, Anderson felt surprised and grateful: “It is a big honor and I was very humbled. I was nominated by my peers from other school districts and chosen by the IASBO Board. It is recognition for hard work and leadership in your district as well as your community,” he said. He looks forward to continuing to serve MCSD.