Pat Sommervold spent the last 47 years taking care of business for Tracy Area Public Schools
By Erin Ballard
Pat Sommervold might work behind the scenes, but for more than four decades her year-round responsibilities as finance director have made her crucial to the success and sustainability of Tracy Area Public Schools.
Out of a small office at Tracy Area High School, business has run like a well-oiled machine for 47 years under Sommervold’s care. On June 30, she’ll pack up her desk and say goodbye, leaving behind a reputation of intelligence, attention to detail and dedication that will stretch well past her retirement.
“I’ve learned a great deal from her, and she’s shared a lot of her knowledge and information with me. She’s right beside me every day,” TAPS Supt. Chad Anderson said. “One of the biggest things, in positions like this, you need people that are trustworthy. And she always keeps what’s best for the district in mind. The community and the district of Tracy have been very fortunate to have her, as someone who is dedicated and loyal, and she’s going to be missed.
“It’s very unusual that we come out spending more than we predicted. Even with declining enrollment, we’ve come out on the positive end so often, I think it’s just because of her planning and preparation,” Anderson added.
Sommervold’s main job is a big one. Each year, she, with the superintendent, is in charge of setting a budget, keeping track of all expenditures, from gas and electricity bills to salaries, and knowing how and where state money can be used. It’s a task that requires a lot of knowledge and extreme meticulousness in order to come out even and take advantage of every dollar out there.
“The thing to remember is school finance is a very complex system,” Anderson said. “You have certain places and ways that you can spend that money and you have to make sure you adhere to all those regulations.”
Sommervold started working at Tracy schools in August 1973, after completing an administrative assistant course at Canby Vocational Technical College, now Minnesota West Community & Technical College, that July. She scoured the papers for any office jobs and fate sent her to interview with Superintendent Dayton Lauthen for his secretary position.
“I swear to this day I only received the job because I was Norwegian heritage and Lutheran. Seriously, those were two of his questions and I scored 100%,” she said.
See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.