Hendrickson retiring as school business manager

After nine years under two school superintendents, Paul Hendrickson is retiring as school business manager on Jan. 31.

“Yes, and I survived,” he said with a laugh when asked about his retirement, which was announced by the district Friday, Dec. 22.

Hendrickson has served as business manager — the head of all the school system’s complex financial operations — under Superintendent Karen Baldwin for two and a half years, and for more than six years under former Superintendent Deborah Low.

The announcement from the Ridgefield Public Schools said a search for a permanent replacement will begin in February 2018, and Superintendent Baldwin said that a search for an interim business manager began before Christmas break.

The school system’s announcement praised Hendrickson’s “nine years of dedicated and committed leadership service to the Ridgefield Public Schools. … Mr. Hendrickson’s contributions to the improvement of the school system include securing school security grant funding, transitioning bargaining units to high-deductible health savings account insurance platform, and developing and managing fiscally responsible operating budgets.”

It appears Hendrickson will still have plenty to do.

“I’ve been approached by a financial services company,” he said. “In November I was elected to the Darien Board of Finance — so I’ll be on that board for four years, God willing.”

Before joining the Ridgefield school system nine years ago, Hendrickson worked in private industry for 28 years — 26 of them at IBM — and served five years in the Navy after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy. What kind of changes has he seen over nine years in public education finances?

“There seems to be a lot more reporting, especially to the state and perhaps federal government,” he said.

That means more work — which is all right, but he feels the local people being asked to do the work could benefit from a little more context.

“It’s also trying to understand, What are the reports being used for?” he said. “If you can make a direct linkage from there to what some actionable item is — some of these, you don’t see that linkage.

“Whenever your boss tells you what to do, you kind of like to have a reason and to see the outcome. And that’s what I would say we need from the state.”