After serving the Payson Unified School District for 16 years as the business manager, Bobette Tomerlin walked out of the district offices for the last time on Monday.
“I’ve been blessed to work with the best team,” she said at her last board meeting, tears threatening to fall.
Tomerlin has taken a once-in-a-career opportunity to serve as the chief financial officer (CFO) for the Mesa School District.
“Mesa is the largest school district in Arizona. As CFO she will be managing a budget in excess of $600 million and be responsible to a governing board and superintendent overseeing approximately 70,000 students,” said Payson Superintendent Casey O’Brien.
Combining the expertise of an exceptional Certified Public Accountant (CPA), deep knowledge of school finance procedures and law with the ability to creatively problem-solve, Tomerlin provided as a sounding board for tough budget decisions, said O’Brien.
In a letter to the Payson Unified School District board, former PUSD board member Kristi Ford wrote, “Few of her colleagues are aware of her activity on the state ASBO (Arizona School Board Association) board, and even fewer are aware Ms. Sylvester, (Tomerlin), has been highly recruited by other districts. Under her tenure, Payson Unified has NEVER gone into the red.”
Tomerlin amassed respect from co-workers at the district, as well:
“I personally have worked directly with Bobette for three years. During that time, I have grown to admire her immensely. She is incredibly intelligent and knowledgeable in the areas of finance and education, and informed on legislative actions concerning these issues. However, the character trait that I find most admirable is her unwavering integrity. She doesn’t just do things right, she does something because it is the right thing to do and leads her staff to do so also,” said Caron Hatch, from the superintendent’s office.
Often it’s the little things that endear a colleague to co-workers. Asked what quirks Tomerlin possessed, O’Brien said, “A great sense of humor. We all knew to let her have her morning caffeine before asking too many questions.”
Hatch also mentioned Tomerlin’s need for caffeine; “She is cheerful and fun, but best after caffeine in the morning!”
The community will miss Tomerlin. “Unless an individual has been intimately familiar with all of the aspects of the financial life of a school district, one cannot appreciate what a shining asset Ms. Sylvester, (Tomerlin), has been to us here in Payson,” wrote Ford.