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GCSS CFO Dean Ware announces retirement, Assistant CFO Connie Wilkes named new CFO

May 31, 2024

Greensboro, Ga. — The Greene County School System’s longtime Chief Financial Officer Dean Ware has retired after 17 years with the district. Previous Assistant CFO Connie Wilkes has been named the new interim GCSS CFO.

Mr. Ware joined the GCSS in January 2007 at the start of the Great Recession when the system budget was more than $2 million in the red. However, under Mr. Ware’s leadership, the district’s financial status was quickly restored and a solid fund balance re-established, which has allowed the district to grow and plan for advancements such as capital improvement projects to provide state-of-the-art learning facilities for Greene County students, including the new Greene County Elementary School on Meadow Crest Road, renovation of the GCHS baseball/softball complex, and more. 

Also under Mr. Ware’s leadership, the district’s finance department has won the GDAA Award for Excellence in Financial Reporting for the past 6 consecutive years, every year since the award was established by the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts in 2017. 

Prior to his service in Greene County, Mr. Ware also served as Chief Financial Officer of the Wilkes County School System for 14 years, where he also restored the district from a $800,000 budget deficit upon his arrival to a generous fund balance upon his departure. He also previously served as a federal agent with the United States Office of Federal Investigations, conducting inquiries into matters relating to national security. Prior to his 35-year career in public service, Mr. Ware also has a decade of experience in loss prevention, compliance audits, and human resource management in the private sector. 

“Throughout his tenure in Greene County, Dean has been an exemplary leader, managing our financial operations with integrity, transparency, and a commitment to excellence,” said Dr. Chris Houston, GCSS Superintendent. “His expertise has been instrumental in guiding our district through numerous challenges and ensuring the financial health and stability of our schools. Under his stewardship, we have seen improved financial planning, increased efficiency, and a stronger financial foundation that will benefit our students and staff for years to come. While we are sad to see him leave, we are also deeply grateful for his service and wish him all the best in his retirement.”

In his retirement, Mr. Ware plans to keep busy on the 60-acre farm he shares with his wife Christy to care for their many cows and horses, as well as spending time with their four grandchildren, the youngest of which is just 9 weeks old.

Mr. Ware said that he believes the challenges of the Covid-19 Pandemic specially prepared Ms. Wilkes as she has trained to step into the CFO role as Assistant CFO at the GCSS over the past 4 years. 

“Within our department, we did some unique cross-training, overlapping responsibilities while training Ms. Wilkes to take the helm of the financial department,” Mr. Ware said, “which has been challenging in the midst of the Covid-19 recovery, as she has also been responsible for managing no less than nine sizable federal grants related to CARES and ARP funding. I have all the faith in the world that she is going to do a great job as CFO, as she has always done over the past 4 years. I look forward to seeing, as the finance department team moves forward, how all the pieces come together for them.”

Connie Wilkes has served as the GCSS Assistant Chief Financial Officer since December 2019. Prior to her service in Greene County, Ms. Wilkes served 21 years at the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts, where she managed a team of auditors auditing school districts and colleges across the state. Ms. Wilkes graduated in 1995 from Georgia Southern University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and received her Certified Public Accountant license in 1997. 

During her time as GCSS Assistant CFO, Ms. Wilkes has administered numerous state and federal grants for the school system, including managing $11 million in CARES/ARP grants, some of which are as long as 268 columns. She handles the GCSS annual audit, including preparing financials reports for the auditors and fulfilling audit requests. She is also responsible for preparing comprehensive financial reports for the Board of Education on a monthly basis.

Ms. Wilkes describes her management style as always looking to improve and become more efficient.

“I want to continue Dean’s legacy of being a good steward of the taxpayers’ dollars, as well as our state and federal funding, along with being supportive of our employees and being there to help them in any way I can,” Ms. Wilkes said. “My number one focus is fiscal responsibility: being sure the money is being spent in the best interest of our students to ensure they get a great education and that the taxpayers’ dollars are not wasted.”