SOUTH MILWAUKEE, Wis. – As the father of two sons, ages 4 and 6, Ted Jarosh has literally been preparing for the day when both children would start school. The president/CEO of Kyle Central Credit Union made up his mind early on that he would take an active part in his kids' schooling. He made good on that promise when he was elected to the St. Francis School Board as its treasurer in April with 72% of the vote. Jarosh is also an official with the St. Francis Common Council, the town's alderman office. This, from someone who has never held a public office but stepped in because, quite frankly, when his predecessor resigned in February, no one was rushing to fill the seat, he said. "It's a small district, but it faces the same disadvantages of a small credit union such as being at the mercy of membership changes and having to form a collective voice in order to have any clout legislatively," Jarosh explained. While the school district is a small one with 1,500 students enrolled at two elementary schools and one high school, overseeing a budget that sees every penny accounted for is an arduous task, said Ellen Ferentz, president of the St. Francis School Board. Still, the election has not been without strife. In February, St. Francis' superintendent, two school principals and the manager of fiscal affairs along with two board members, resigned, took job positions in other districts or chose not to seek re-election, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Margaret Koch, the previous board's treasurer, resigned in part because the board voted to require that administrators pay part of their health costs, among other reasons, the newspaper reported. Almost six months later, the board is made up of a "great group of people with no hidden agendas," said Ferentz. "He's a breath of fresh air," Ferentz said. "He's helping us with strategies to examine every department in the school system so that we can find significant savings." Indeed, after a lengthy process of getting bids for the school system's lawn care, Jarosh was able to pinpoint areas that will save St. Francis $20,000 this year, Ferentz said. "He doesn't come in with gangbusters, he's a team player," she added. "He really listens and tells it like it is." Jarosh isn't new to making decisions to save money. When he came to KCCU in 1989, the credit union was one of the last two in the state that had not met criteria to qualify for federal insurance. If something wasn't done quickly to turn the credit union around, members were facing a merger with a larger credit union, Jarosh said. "There were a lot of late nights, it was a challenge for all of us," he recalled. KCCU would eventually qualify for the insurance and the credit union has since grown to 4,000 members, $10 million in assets and 10 employees. Jarosh said the credit union is considering opening a branch in nearby Oak Creek. Meanwhile, administrators at St. Francis High School and South Milwaukee High School have expressed strong interest in allowing students to open a credit union on each respective campus. His roles as credit union CEO and school board treasurer doesn't stop there. He's also one of the co-founders and editor of Waters & Woods magazine, a four-year old fishing exchange published ten times a year. Because he is an outdoors aficionado, fellow fishers often come to the credit union for boat financing and a tip or two. "It's a large part of our business," Jarosh said. "I enjoy talking with them." Jarosh admits while all his roles have ties to each other, there is no overlap on time spent in each respective position. He meets with the school board once a month in the evening and is responsible for overseeing the schools' budget. Evenings are also devoted to proofreading stories and writing a monthly column for Waters & Woods. Since Madison-based RB Publishing Inc. bought the magazine, Jarosh's lessened duties free up more of his editorial time. Of his newly-elected role, "the members and board have been very supportive of what I'm trying to do for our school system here." One advantage the credit union has seen as an indirect result of Jarosh serving on the board is members may have access to direct deposit. "We had been trying for four years to get the city to get payroll deduction and during that time, we were basically ignored," he said. "A month after I got elected to the council, we were all but assured that the city would start payroll deduction." He gives a lot of credit to his wife for convincing him to run for the treasurer position – "the big picture is doing what's best for the schools and all of our kids." – [email protected]

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