In 2004, Tom Anderson graduated from Redwood Valley High School. Little did he know that 14 years later he would return to his alma mater in a different capacity – as its finance director.
Anderson, who earned a degree in business economics with a finance minor from St. Cloud State University in 2008, began working in the local school district at the end of May.
While Anderson did not officially take over the role as finance director until July 1, the days leading up to that date were extremely beneficial for him, as he had the chance to work with Scott LeSage and to learn from him the ins and outs of what it means to be the director of finance for a school district.
“It was nice to have that transition, and Scott helped me out a lot,” Anderson said, adding school finance is extremely complex and so having someone with experience available has helped to better prepare him for the new role.
After college, Anderson started working as a loan processor before taking on a job in the finance department of the Target Corporation.
It was in 2016 that Anderson and his family opted to move out of the metro area.
“We wanted to be close to home,” said Anderson, adding his wife is from Minneota and so the move to Redwood Falls meant both of them would be much closer to family.
“It’s nice to be in a small town,” Anderson said, adding you can really get to know the people.
For Anderson, that was made easier because of the fact that he grew up in the Redwood area.
When Anderson and his family moved back to Redwood Falls he got a job as a loan officer at Minnwest Bank in Redwood Falls.
“I really enjoyed working there,” said Anderson. “It was tough to leave.”
Anderson said it had to be the right situation that drew him away from his role at Minnwest Bank, and that situation arose with the job opening at the school.
“This is such a nice school district,” said Anderson, adding the fact that he had knowledge of the district and its people and recognized it as a very good place really drew him to the role.
While in high school, Anderson excelled in math and knew he wanted to find a career in that area. It was during college that he discovered an interest in finance.
“I have always enjoyed numbers,” said Anderson.
While finance is a unique industry, Anderson is discovering the fact that school finance is in itself an unique aspect of that field.
Anderson said he came in to his new role recognizing he had no experience in school finance, which, he added, made having LeSage around very helpful.
The learning curve will be steep for Anderson, and he knows it is going to take some time to learn. He has also learned that even when one does get a solid grasp on how things work things can quickly change which means learning things all over again.
LeSage has agreed to remain in an advisory role for Anderson as he continues to learn.
Anderson said things have been going well so far, adding he is breaking things down learning the different areas one by one. He said what has made his job easier is working with a great group of people at the school district who have made him feel very welcome.
Anderson, and his wife Alyssa, who is the occupational therapist for the Redwood Area School District, live on a farm near Belview. They have one child, a son named Gabe.
In addition to his role with the district, Anderson is also working with his dad on the farm, which will keep him very busy as well.
For Anderson, moving back to the area means providing opportunities for him and his family to be more involved with community.
Being in a smaller school also means the next generation of Andersons will have the chance to be as active in school as they want to be and that they can be involved in a wider variety of activities that might not have been as available to them in a larger school district.
Scott LeSage, who worked for the local school district for the past three years, expressed his appreciation for the opportunity he had to work there.
“The decision to leave was a very difficult one,” said LeSage, adding as a graduate of Redwood Valley the school is a special place to him.
Having the next generation also involved in the school district means LeSage will remain connected to the school .
“I’m very excited for Tom in his new role and the director of finance and support services for RASD,” said LeSage. “I think he will do fantastic. I’ve really enjoyed getting the chance to know Tom over the last three months. He is a very sharp guy and will catch on quickly to the complexities of school finance in Minnesota.”