When’s the last time an accounting “numbers man” made a calculated decision “from the heart?”

Rudy Martinez was named Pelican Rapids school finance director last week.

That’s what happened recently at the Pelican Rapids School District front office, when Rudy Matinez accepted the position of finance officer for the district. 

By unanimous decision, the school board quickly approved his appointment to the full time position, at a June 26 meeting. 

“It’s a decision I made from the heart,” said Martinez, a Pelican Rapids native and 2007 graduate. “What swung my decision was the kids of Pelican Rapids…I want to give them a better future.”  

 The position was effective July 1, and Martinez enters a position with a broad administrative job description: 

“…Assist in managing and directing the finance function of the school districts, including accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, budget process, annual audit, financial grant management and investment management.” 

Superintendent Randi Anderson said she was extremely pleased that Martinez accepted the post. His experience over the past year has provided plenty of insight as to the school’s financial picture. 

Martinez, who was born and raised in Pelican–whose parents have worked their entire lives at the West Central Turkeys plant–said he and his family fully intend to make their lives in Pelican Rapids.  

“If not me, then who?” said Martinez.  “I plan to be here a long time.” 

But even though he made a career decision reached  in large part on sentimental factors and motivations from the heart–he’s still a calculating,  “beancounter” type.  

A graduate of St. Cloud State with a degree in finance, Martinez worked in finance-related positions in the Twin Cities–including at the Land O’ Lakes creamery business offices, before returning to Pelican Rapids.  

Martinez assumes the full time finance director post at a time when the school made $1 million in cuts ahead of the coming school year. And the school is expected to face additional cuts next year. 

“It will be a tough one, but I welcome the challenge and I want to help us grow,” said Martinez.  “The first thing I learned is to truly value the word ‘no,’” said Martinez, who said he has a clear understanding on when to put the brakes on spending. “‘No’ is a word you may hear from me frankly–and frequently.”

Martinez returned to the Pelican area to join the Lakes Country Service Cooperative, an organization that provides specialized services to school districts, including financial management.  The Pelican schools contracted with Lakes Country for business management, and Martinez had  been assigned to Pelican schools, among other duties. 

Martinez was offered a promotion at the Lakes Country last spring, which would have pulled him away from the Pelican assignment.  

The school board considered several options, including continuing with the Lakes Country contract.  In May, the board and administration decided to post the position to test the waters on hiring an in-house, staff business manager.  Several applications were received, but only two had the required qualifications. Two were interviewed by a school committee, and Martinez was offered the position.  

Despite the promotion at the service cooperative, Martinez chose the business management position with his hometown school.