By Terry Dean
Oak Park and River Forest High School on May 23 hired Tod Altenburg, an administrator from Lombard elementary school District 44, as its new finance and operations chief.
A native of Crystal Lake, Altenburg has both a school finance and education background. He's been assistant superintendent for finance and operations in Lombard for six years but began his career as a high school teacher. Altenburg was hired last week by the District 200 Board of Education. He officially starts at OPRF on July 1.
Altenburg's base salary will be $168,000, not including benefits. His most recent salary at Lombard D44 was around $180,000. Altenburg replaces Cheryl Witham, who is moving on to New Trier Township High School District 203 as its finance and operations administrator.
Following last Thursday's vote, Altenburg told Wednesday Journal that he's excited and looking forward to joining OPRF.
"The reason I applied is the outstanding reputation the school has. That was one of the main draws," he said. "I'm in Lombard right now and I've really enjoyed my six years there, but I wanted to get back to the high school level."
All six D200 board members voted for Altenburg at their regular meeting last Thursday; member Sharon Patchak-Layman was absent that evening. In a statement released by the high school on May 24, D200 Supt. Steven Isoye praised the incoming CFO's background and abilities.
"Tod brings a number of strengths to District 200," Isoye said. "Through the interview process, it was impressive to learn about his history of finding efficiencies that reduce costs while keeping cuts away from the classroom, as well as his ability to clearly communicate complex financial issues."
Altenburg's school finance background spans nearly a decade. Prior to Lombard, he was the CFO and treasurer for a McLean County school district in Normal. Before entering school finance, Altenburg taught English and Spanish in a school district in Sterling, beginning in 1992. He also held administrative posts at Sterling, including elementary school principal.
In 2011, Altenburg was honored for "distinguished service" by the Illinois Chapter of the National School Public Relations Association, receiving the Award of Merit in the administrator category.
Since 2010, Altenburg has been an adjunct professor at Concordia University in River Forest, teaching finance and business management. Altenburg is a graduate of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb and from there began teaching in Sterling. In D44, he oversees six elementary schools and one middle school, serving a total population of about 3,100 students, Pre-K to eighth grade.
The district includes much of west suburban Lombard and a portion of Glen Ellyn.
D44's current fund balance is more than $30 million, according to the district's 2012-13 budget. In 2011, the district opened a $1.2 million early childhood center, built as an addition to one of its elementary schools. The four-classroom add-on was partially funded through federal stimulus dollars and tax increment financing.
In his OPRF statement, Isoye noted D44's strong finances under Altenburg's watch.
"He has an extremely strong sense of how fiscal decision-making affects the most important people in the district," Isoye said.