DeKalb School District 428 board pays tribute to retiring longtime finance director

Cindy Carpenter is leaving her post as the district’s director of business and finance after 17 years.

Cindy Carpenter, DeKalb District 428's director of business and finance, is celebrated by the DeKalb District 428 school board at its June 6, 2023 meeting. Carpenter is retiring from her post after 17 years.

DeKALB – In an emotional sendoff this week, the DeKalb School District 428 board bid farewell to Cindy Carpenter, the district’s longtime director of business and finance.

Carpenter is leaving her post as the district’s top school business official after 17 years.

Her colleague, Armir Doka, has been assuming the role of the district’s co-director of business and finance for a portion of the school year to help ensure a smooth transition.

Carpenter said it means a lot knowing all that she’s accomplished to finally set her sights on retirement.

“This career has been awesome,” Carpenter said. “I started in [the] private sector working in banking my first half of my career and then just kind of stumbled into school districts, into accounting. It just blossomed from there. So [I] never knew that this was even an opportunity to work at a school in that capacity. It’s just been a great experience to be able to be at the level I was able to be at in serving the students here.”

Superintendent Minerva Garcia-Sanchez commended Carpenter for her service to the district as she embarks on retirement.

“There are not enough words for me to express what I have been able to learn and grow from you these past two years,” Garcia-Sanchez said. “I hope that together we learned something and were able to change the course of what the district looks like and feels better, feels different. But definitely, you laid the groundwork for making sure that we were solvent and in the black and could do the things that we’re doing.”

Carpenter said her favorite part of the job is seeing the students and knowing that her work can make a difference.

“In the accounting office, a lot of people think, ‘OK, we’re just kind of stuck in a room and looking at spreadsheets,’ which we do a lot of that,” Carpenter said. “But then when you go out to the schools and you see what the kids are doing and knowing that you want to remain fiscally responsible for them, so that they can have those opportunities, that’s probably my favorite thing I love to see because it’s all about that. It really is.”

Carpenter said there’s a lot she’s going to miss about working for DeKalb schools.

“I like the details of the work,” Carpenter said. “[It’s] probably the hardest thing to take home in the position as the director. I love just doing the debits and credits and analyzing and getting down to the nitty gritty of it all. But to actually work on the big picture, too, was actually very satisfying.”

At her final school board meeting this week, Carpenter ceremoniously passed the baton to Doka.

Carpenter said she plans to focus more heavily on teaching and guiding the next generation of school business officials at Northern Illinois University going forward.