Janine Wechter’s life came full circle this past summer when she was named business administrator of Washington Township Public Schools.
A “Township” resident since she was 5 years old, Wechter bleeds Washington Township red and blue. After graduating from WTHS in 1991, she went to Rowan University to pursue a degree in business and accounting. With her degree in tow, she began her career in public accounting, working for governmental auditing departments with school districts, municipalities and fire districts, making her a female, real-life version of “Parks and Recreation” character Ben Wyatt sans the political background. Traveling and auditing for districts gave her insight into what her future could hold.
When she took her first district business administrator job in 2009 at South Harrison School District, she was anxious about only being in one location instead of traveling from district to district or municipality to municipality. She was unsure if she’d like being stagnant. Turns out, she shouldn’t have worried. It was more rewarding than she could have ever thought.
“You hear all the stories about our kids and what they’re doing,” Wechter said. “It’s not just crunching numbers. I get to see the good that comes out of the budget and things we’re paying for.
“It makes it more meaningful because it’s my community.”
As the school district’s business administrator, Wechter is responsible for budgeting and finances, financial reports and grant administration for insurance and risk management. She oversees human resources, personnel, operations, food services and transportation, too. She writes monthly financial reports, reports financial information to the board of education, sits on committees, has involvement with the legal department, payroll and the hiring process. She and superintendent Joseph Bollendorf work hand-in-hand to make Washington Township a premier school district.
While she is required to wear many hats, Wechter finds the job both enjoyable and meaningful.
“I love the town,” she said simply.
“To be a part of it and enjoy all the good things that are happening and being able to be a part of addressing what needs to be done and being a part of our vision and where we’re going in the future, being able to be a part of helping carry that out means a lot because I love the district and community and everybody here.”
When Wechter isn’t behind her desk working with the district’s $150 million operating budget, she can be found spending time with her kids, most likely at a sporting event or a practice. Wechter’s two kids, Emily, a freshman at Washington Township High School, and Ethan, a sixth-grader, are very active in sports and have been since they were 5 years old, according to Wechter. She said she’s the team mom for several teams, has served as a team manager, volunteered for the booster club and was the treasurer for Emily’s soccer team.
“I enjoy spending time with them at their sporting events and volunteering as much as I can,” she said.
There’s no question Wechter keeps busy. She keeps that energy up the same as much of America – with Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. She claims to drink it every day with cream and Splenda.
At her core, Wechter is a numbers girl. She enjoys looking over financial reports and doing budgeting, which is why she is looking forward to her first budget season in her new role.
“Even though I talked about all the things that make the job rewarding, at the end of the day I’m a numbers person,” she said. “I like going to admin meetings and listening to what everybody needs and trying to figure out how to get it done and squeeze it into the budget.”
Even though budget season can get hectic with short deadlines she is comfortable working in that atmosphere.
“I’m excited about my first budget process because that’s where you learn the most about the district,” she described. “Right now I’m learning by seeing current purchases and paperwork flowing across my desk. When you dig into the budget, you kind of get a feel for everything. I’m looking forward to it.”
As a lifelong resident, Wechter can now fully immerse herself into the community by holding a position to positively impact the place she calls home. Whether it’s seeing the band in new uniforms, approving a new club at the school or finding funding to send a club or team to a tournament or competition out of state, Wechter’s fingerprints will be all over the future of “Township.”