Thanks for a job done well
Hailed for shepherding CCPS through difficult budgets
Long-time financial guru Balides retires from school system
For more than two decades, Paul Balides has shepherded Charles County Public Schools’ finances through good times and bad.
Now the CCPS’ assistant superintendent of finance is stepping down, retiring after 21 years with the school system.
“I’ve worked for Paul [Balides] since 1987, and I can say that Paul is an extremely brilliant man with all of the accomplishments that he’s done for CCPS,” said Randy Sotomayor, executive director of the Office of Finance and Business. “One of the biggest things he has done, is throughout his entire career in CCPS, there have never been any layoffs.”
Balides’ duties will be han- dled in an interim capacity by Sotomayor, said school system Superintendent Kimberly Hill.
A farewell celebration was held on Friday, his last day, and attended by staff, school board members past and present, county officials and others, to bid farewell to Balides, whom many said has made a lasting impact on the school system.
Balides left a senior staff position at American University in Washington, D.C., in 1995 to take a position with the school system as executive director of the Office of Finance and Business. Keith Hettel, assistant superintendent of supporting services, said Balides guided the system through some very difficult financial crises.
“He basically changed the way we do business, totally changed it, and it wasn’t without some pushback, but he put a cushion in for us, for the needs of the system,” Hettel said. “He could always come up with a way to fund things things that meant that we could do the job we needed to do.”
Hill thanked Balides for the personal integrity he demonstrated in carrying out his responsibilities.
“Taking care of the money in an organization this size, with an over $334 million budget, is a huge job, and it is something you’ve always done with humor, and something you’ve done with a little sarcasm, but I never, ever wondered if you were doing something wrong,” Hill told Balides. “The ethics that you have shown have been beyond reproach.”
Amy Hollstein, assistant superintendent of instruction, said Balides’ legacy includes the school breakfast program and the James E. Richmond Science Center.
Charles County Commissioner Ken Robinson (D) said Balides worked closely with the board on financial issues.
“Developing and maintaining the relationship between the commissioners and the school system and the board of education is paramount and I think we have never had a better relationship than we have today,” Robinson said. “Any time there was a question about funding, renovations or new schools, [Balides was] our go-to guy, and we always knew we were going to get a straight answer, even if it wasn’t always the numbers that we wanted to hear.”
Sylvia Lawson, assistant superintendent of school administration, said Balides has been a great steward of the school system’s finances.
“No one ever worried about getting their paychecks, we didn’t have to have reductions in force, we didn’t have to lay people off,” Lawson said.
Balides said the best part of working for the school system was knowing that what he was doing was to the benefit of the children of Charles County.
“It’s been an amazing experience and I really count myself fortunate to have been a part of this large fam- ily of people that got things done,” Balides said.
Balides said he will most miss the people he worked with and the ability to make an impact on children’s lives.
Hill said Balides has made a lasting impact on CCPS and on the community.
“He brought this school system through very difficult fiscal times, without laying off employees,” Hill said. “He’s a master of finding out how to move money so that we can do what’s right for children, and he does it all quietly, behind the scenes. Superintendents get recognition, principals get recognition, instructional personnel get recognition. Your financial people don’t. But he played a significant role in how we can do our jobs to impact children.”
Paul Balides, outgoing assistant superintendent of finance for Charles County Public Schools, is presented with a framed photo of the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building by Randy Sotomayor, executive director of the Office of Finance and Business. A retirement celebration was held for Balides Friday.