Laguna Beach fiscal chief tapped to be OCDE’s next associate superintendent of business services

The Orange County Department of Education has hired a new associate superintendent of business services.

Dean West, who has led the Laguna Beach Unified School District’s business services department since 2012, will succeed Wendy Benkert, who retired in December after nearly 27 years of service to OCDE. West will assume the role starting Jan. 11.

“We are excited to have secured a seasoned leader of his caliber to build on the outstanding work and statewide reputation of our fiscal services division,” said Orange County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Al Mijares. “Dean West will provide high-level expertise and superlative support to the school districts of Orange County.”

OCDE’s Business Services division provides technical, advisory and management support to 27 Orange County school districts, four community college districts and four regional occupational programs. Its menu of services includes financial accounting and budgeting, assistance with administrative systems, Local Control Accountability Plan support and oversight, Local Control Funding Formula calculations, district audit reports, tax apportionments and vendor payment audits.

The division also provides support in external business services such as payroll services, retirement reporting, credential and fingerprinting services, and unemployment insurance claim management.

West joined Laguna Beach’s business services department in 2010, serving as director of fiscal services before being promoted to assistant superintendent two years later. As LBUSD’s chief business officer, he oversaw facilities, nutrition services, risk management and fiscal services. District officials say he established and maintained sound financial practices, increased internal controls and developed a 10-year facilities master plan.

West previously worked as an independent consultant and auditor to school districts. He also served in school business services roles in the West Covina and San Marino unified school districts.

Laguna Beach Superintendent Dr. Jason Viloria said West’s new position will “allow him to share his wealth of knowledge with the entire educational community in Orange County and all districts will benefit from his expertise.”

“I am thankful to have had the opportunity to work with Dean and have been impressed with his leadership in making LBUSD a fiscally strong school district,” Viloria said.