Feb. 26, 2013 — There are many things I enjoy about my job reporting news here at the paper. The variety of stories and the people I get to interview always makes things interesting.
I value the working relationships I've built up over the years with news sources and contacts, but some stick out more than others, probably due to the length of time I’ve worked with a person.
For six years I've reported on the happenings at Lassen High School from homecoming to graduation and a lot in between. The second Tuesday of every month I have a standing reservation at the Lassen Union High School District (LUHSD) board meetings where items are discussed from test scores to budgets.
I tend to cringe when I see "budget workshop," or "budget presentation," on any agenda. I prefer words over numbers, but LUHSD Chief Business Officer Debbie Fry makes the district's budget discussions easier to endure with her precise approach in giving the information.
I remember dreading writing my first high school budget story, which was only one of many more.
What did all of that information mean and what was important to the reader? So, I called Fry and started asking lots of questions. And when I hung up, I thought, well, that's not too bad. This all makes sense now.
That was the first of many interviews, and since then, she has patiently answered hundreds of questions over the years. I would sit fascinated during meetings when she explained what it took to build a budget and all the considerations and money pools they had to deal with. She helped me understand what phrases like revenue limit and restricted funding meant to school funding.
Soon budget stories were easier to write and the information Fry gave me made other agencies stories come together with ease as well. As the state budget has gotten progressively worse over the years and the district had to endure mid-year cuts and state deferrals, I would still find myself calling to inquire about the year's cash flow and deficit spending.
As a reporter, I admired and respected the way no question was unanswerable and her unwavering from the "controversial" subjects. She was always willing to help, I think especially if it meant helping the community better understand what was going on.
I was a bit surprised one day in late January when I received an email from Fry, telling me she was resigning from the LUHSD.
There are some people in life, whether personal or professional, that you just hate to see go, and she is one of them.
I agree with LUHSD interim superintendent Roy Casey, who said, “Life only gives us certain opportunities at certain times, and this is a great opportunity. She’s not running from us, she’s running toward another position.”
Fry is now working for the Metropolitan Education District, a vocational education school, in San Jose and they are lucky to have her.
But I will sure miss working with her. She told me if I ever needed help understanding school business, to call her any time.
I’m sure I’ll take her up on the offer, to see how her new job is going, and what school business is like in the big city, with thousands more students.
Good luck, Debbie.
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