As the state prepares to face off to inevitable budget cuts, school districts across Colorado are bearing some of that burden as administrators catch wind of an estimated $3 billion in revenue losses for the state. For many, the difficult task of balancing a budget is a lot of weight to shoulder. But Trinidad School District No. 1’s new CFO Paul Jussila, who begins officially June 1, said he’s ready and excited for the opportunity to take on the challenge.
“I’m excited,” said Jussila, “Actually, I’m more excited. I love a challenge and I had originally chosen Trinidad because I saw opportunity here. I see a bright future here and now I’m in a position where I can help build that future district-wide rather than just my classroom. This gives me an opportunity to combine my love for finance as well as my love for education.”
Jussila began his time with TSD1 as a career and technical education business teacher at Trinidad High School, but said he’s been preparing for such a position since before he moved here from Connecticut.
“I have two certifications from the east coast specific to this position,” said Jussila, “Colorado doesn’t have a certification for it. In Connecticut I spent 20 years teaching finance and finance related courses. This is just bringing it to a different level now.”
With budget cuts coming down the pipe from the state, Jussila said he would ideally like to try to fill out any shortfalls with creative financing and seeking out other sources of funding. As a teacher of 20 plus years, he said he understood the importance of extracurricular activities, generally the first to go when trimming numbers. That said, he also expressed that part of his position meant keeping the doors open and that sometimes means making tough decisions.
“I’m coming out of the classroom with 21 years of experience, so I’m not so far removed and I understand what’s on both sides,” said Jussila. “I think extracurricular programs are important to the development of all of our students. I’d also like to see us increase funding through private grants. I hope we don’t have to make hard cuts, but I’m here to make tough decisions and if I have to I will.”
Being in town for almost a year, Jussila said even though he’s had some trouble finding a good rental, the people here have made him feel right at home.
“I’ve been welcomed here as though I’m not an outsider and I’ve never felt that way,” Jussila said. “Teachers are supporting me, administration is supporting my dreams here and I think that’s just amazing. I’ve never been part of a small town community. Everybody knows everybody and everybody’s supporting everybody and it’s just not that way back on the East Coast.”
Jussila said he has a lot of hopes for Trinidad, expecting numbers to go up as the state recovers from the pandemic. As CFO, he hopes to keep an open line of communication with other administrators and staff to continue to move TSD1 into the future.
“I want to frequently meet with the building administrators and let them know where they stand with their budget,” said Jussila. “I want to know what they would like to have in a perfect world and see if I can try to get that in order to improve our district.”