Ministry pays for financial hired help

The Education Ministry is lending New Westminster school superintendent/CEO John Gaiptman a helping hand for the summer.

The ministry is paying for a consultant who has bailed out other deficit-ridden school districts. David Greenan will assist Gaiptman in solving New Westminster's accumulated shortfall of nearly $5 million.

Greenan served for six months as the interim Langley secretary-treasurer in 2010. In that time he straightened out that school district's finances which had been in dire straits. He has also worked with school districts in Mission and Vernon.

"Great guy. Oh my God, the best," gushed Gaiptman. "He turned it around (in Langley). He was the guy that I wanted from the beginning, but he's not cheap. Adding administration when you walk into a district is never a good move. We can't afford to do anything but the right thing. From the beginning I've been telling everybody I'm looking for some help. And [the ministry was] good enough to allow me."

Greenan will work from his home in Vernon to help the district balance its future budgets while paying back the accumulated deficit. That task has turned out to be more challenging than Gaiptman thought, and he's not too proud to ask for help.

"Let's be honest, when they hired me they expected given my background for me to be able to do it, and I'm struggling," said Gaiptman. "As a CEO, there shouldn't be anything that's happening that I don't completely understand, and I don't completely understand this and there's no margin for error [in New Westminster]."

Gaiptman said with the ministry footing the bill he can ask for Greenan's advice at any time without worrying about the consultation's cost to the district's bottom line.

New Westminster board chair Jonina Campbell said the board appreciates the ministry's offer to pay for Greenan.

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