Gabler eyeing retirement, Wellington Schools gear up for treasurer search

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Tina Gabler

JASON HAWK
EDITOR

A search for a new financial expert to lead the Wellington Schools is getting underway.

Treasurer Tina Gabler plans to retire Dec. 1, closing out a career that has spanned 30 years.

“We have talked in regard to staying longer, but she’s consistently told us no, she has to leave because of her pension,” said Superintendent Ed Weber.

Gabler has served as treasurer in Wellington since 2016.

She was briefly director of fiscal services for META Solutions starting in 2014, but spent most of her career — nearly 24 years — as treasurer of the Northmor school system in Galion.

In Wellington, she stepped into the role vacated by Michael Pissini, who had been there for only a short time after the departure of Brad McCracken.

McCracken split his time between Wellington and Firelands, an agreement reached after the departure of Suzanne Wilson during one of the district’s darkest financial times.

Now the district is faring far better. Wellington’s five-year forecast, submitted to the Ohio Department of Education in October, still shows the district spending more than it makes over the next few years, but with healthy reserves, which means no operating deficit in the picture.

Wellington still has its troubles, though. The district says it can’t afford to make critical repairs to Westwood Elementary School without a nearly $9 million tax increase, which appears on the March 17 ballot as Issue 16.

A new roof and boilers top the list of fixes the school needs. The Board of Education has raised the possibility of closing Westwood’s doors if those problems aren’t addressed soon.

With those issues in mind, the school board is gearing up for a treasurer search.

Steve Farnsworth of Sagamore Hills-based Finding Leaders offered his services on Tuesday, Feb. 4. The firm already helps the Board of Education with superintendent and treasurer evaluations.

Farnsworth recommended looking for candidates inside the state. “Especially with the treasurer, there are so many nuances that are specific to Ohio,” he said.

“It is difficult to find a really good treasurer. It is tough. Because we’re going to beat the bushes, we’re going to bring you what you say you want,” he said.

Wellington would be lucky to find a pool of 20 qualified candidates for the job, he said. Finding Leaders would aim to put three to six semifinalists in front of the school board.

According to Farnsworth, the firm’s services would cost about $10,000.

Board President Brett Murner said he has strong feelings about one aspect of the search: no rehiring a retired treasurer.

“I’m not a fan of that. I don’t think it’s the right thing for our district,” he said.