A top administrator in the Brighton Area Schools will be leaving the district she has served for the last 10 years in September.

Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance Maria Gistinger will be retiring from the Brighton Area Schools. Superintendent Greg Gray tells WHMI that he’ll be sorry to see Gistinger go. Gray says that Gistinger has made a huge impact on the Brighton Area School District, and has been given a good share of the credit for Brighton’s turnaround from having a budget deficit that, at one time, totaled $15 million, to its present status with a healthy, $6.1 million fund balance at the end of the 2018-19 fiscal year on June 30th — a figure expected to increase to $7 million by the end of the 19-20 fiscal year.

Gistinger tells WHMI she’ll stick around until the end of September so she can prepare the audit to present to the district’s auditors. She expects her replacement to be hired by that time and hopes to be able to help her successor in the transition process. The position she holds has been posted and the district is actively recruiting to fill it by advertising on the Michigan Association of School Administrators website.

“It’s going to be tough to leave,” Gistinger says, while adding she will be departing with the assurance that she “left the district in better shape than I found it.” Gistinger says restoring the Brighton district to financial health — without adversely affecting the education of students — was her top priority when she arrived, and is the accomplishment of which she is most proud.

She says a big factor in Brighton’s financial recovery was instituting Shared Services - in which a school district provides courses and staff to smaller schools which have limited course offerings. The district offering the program gets to keep the recipient school’s “per pupil” state aid, and that’s what makes it financially viable.

After teacher salaries are paid, along with the fee paid to the company which administers Shared Services, the average yearly surplus for Brighton from the program has been $3 million. That’s a substantial sum, one the district has been able to use to help pay off the budget deficit, along with making
one-time purchases, such as new school boilers and new buses.

Gistinger won’t actually be retiring, and, in fact, could be called a workaholic. That’s because she actually holds two positions, the other being a professor at Walsh College, a business school in Troy, where she teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses in accounting, and where she will continue to be employed. She is also a certified public accountant. Gistinger has bachelor's and master's degrees from Saginaw Valley State University and earned her doctorate at Michigan State University. She is married to Dennis Gistinger, a bank executive, and the couple has four grown children, which includes two psychologists, a lawyer and a college business major. (TT)