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December 5, 2022

New HSD Chief Business Officer drawn to ‘team mentality’

Elizabeth Wilson enjoys new role overseeing district finances

Elizabeth Wilson has overseen finances in school districts of varying sizes for over 23 years, ranging from 27 students to 25,000 students. Before working in schools, Wilson worked as an auditor for a public accounting firm.

Elizabeth Wilson

“By and large, most of my districts have been much smaller than that,” Wilson said of her experience at the very large Visalia Unified School District. “I kind of like smaller districts. You’re closer to the kids, frankly. Most of them are close to the size of the Hollister School District.” 

This year, Wilson joined the Hollister School District as Chief Business Officer while transitioning from her most recent role at the Aromas-San Juan Unified School District. Although she has a budget-focused position, Wilson said she takes a student-centric approach.

“I would describe the role as, to make sure we have reasonable budgets that ensure our students get the education they need,” Wilson said. “It really doesn’t cut it when adults tell kids there’s not enough money.” 

Wilson said the team environment at the Hollister School District was her biggest draw to the role. 

“There are a lot of different places that are a little more siloed, and this is not one of them,” she said. 

She said she works with a great team of seven staff members. 

“We’re working as an administrative team,” she said. “We’re working with budget and instruction and finance and special education and facilities and technology. We have overlapping needs and goals. That’s one of the things I like so much—that team mentality.” 

While the team atmosphere was appealing, Wilson was fully aware of the Hollister School District’s continued efforts to improve its budget situation. 

“It’s going to sound twisted—I like a district with challenges,” she said. “I like trying to find solutions. I like trying to make budgets better. It’s the challenge and working on a team.” 

She spoke about the district’s ongoing fiscal turnaround after a structural deficit arose last year for the district with a $58 million unrestricted annual budget. She said the numbers are improving, but that trend must continue. 

“We need to live within our means,” Wilson said. “There’s still a lot of work involved with that. If we don’t straighten up our own ship, then the state’s going to come in.” 

She said that’s the very last thing the district wants to happen.

“We will get ourselves out of this because it’s that important to us,” she said. “It’s going to be a lot of work this year, and it may take another year to really get our feet on the ground. I think we’ve got people here who are 100% invested in making sure we get ourselves turned around.” 

Overall, Wilson is excited about her position with the Hollister School District. 

“I’m just really happy to be here,” she said. 

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