News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

ORCA hires new finance director

Oregon Charter Academy (ORCA) will have a new finance director next month as Gates resident Steve Nielsen transitions away from a similar role with Silver Falls School District (SFSD).

ORCA’s current Finance Director Mary Ellen Mansfield of Mapleton, announced her intent to step down in November 2023 to pursue her private bookkeeping business.

Nielsen is expected to begin mid-March with Mansfield staying on through the end of the month to help with the transition.

In a statement to The Canyon Weekly ORCA spokesperson Cailyn Tegel said the academy looks forward to bringing Nielsen on board.

“Mr. Nielsen’s background and passion for education will be a tremendous asset to Oregon Charter Academy,” said Tegel.

Nielsen has served with SFSD for nine years and oversaw the district’s financial health and operations through some of its most turbulent periods. This included significant shifts in Oregon’s public retirement system in 2019, and financial disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 ice storm.

More recently Nielsen helped lead the district’s attempt to pass a $138 million facilities bond, which voters rejected in November 2023. 

SFSD is proposing a scaled down bond for this May’s election and Nielsen is expected to oversee finalization of this proposal by a March 1 election filing deadline.

SFSD Superintendent Scott Drue said in a Jan. 18 press release Nielsen’s dedication and expertise were vital to maintaining the district’s fiscal integrity during these years. Drue praised Nielsen’s “ability to see through complex issues and focus on what really matters – in our case, our students.”

“He will be sincerely missed, and we wish him all the best in his new adventure,” said Drue.

ORCA is a K-12 online charter school based in Mill City.

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