AISD Finance Chief Heads to Dallas
Larry Throm jumps out of the frying pan and into the fire
The man credited with keeping Austin Independent School District financially solvent for almost a decade is heading north to make a clean sweep of how Dallas public schools manage their money. After nine years as AISD's chief financial officer, Larry Throm is leaving to become the new executive chief financial officer for Dallas Independent School District.
Throm has signed an 18-month contract, complete with a $258,000 salary. He'll be earning every cent: DISD has faced a wave of financial scandals this year, including going $64 million over budget, revelations that some staffers were given fake Social Security numbers, and former Chief Technology Officer Ruben Bohuchot going to jail for taking bribes from a computer supplier. Throm confirmed DISD had actively headhunted him to help build a new financial infrastructure with real oversight. "Well, they've got some unique challenges up there," Throm said diplomatically, "but they're all soluble. There's just a lack of internal controls on the budget side and the hiring side." While Throm said he knows that many people fear he's walking into a mine field, he sees an opportunity to put the focus back on improving education. "The finance side is taking all the space in the newspaper, and there's no space for the good side," he said.
Both AISD Superintendant Pat Forgione and Throm's new boss, DISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, praised him as the top school finance expert in the state, responsible for building AISD's high bond rating. Throm already has plans for Dallas. Currently, the human resources and instructional technology departments report to Hinojosa, but Throm has requested that they be restructured to report directly to his finance office. The three departments, he said, are "like a three-legged stool: It'll fall over if you try to balance on just two legs."
Throm is the latest high-profile loss for AISD: Chief Academic Officer Darlene Westbrook stepped down earlier this year, and Forgione retires on June 30, 2009. Throm's last day with AISD will be Dec. 16, and he'll start his new job in January. AISD plans to appoint an interim CFO, but the selection of a permanent replacement will be left to the new superintendent.