Bjork putting away the calculator

By Phil Major
Posted 12/28/23

Understanding the Texas public education financing system might be considered a super power in some circles.

For the Mineola school district, assistant superintendent for business William Bjork …

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Bjork putting away the calculator


Understanding the Texas public education financing system might be considered a super power in some circles.

For the Mineola school district, assistant superintendent for business William Bjork might be thought of as a super hero.

For almost three decades Bjork has shepherded MISD through the many twists and turns of education funding, learning the ins and outs of an increasingly-complex system, all the while keeping the district in a strong financial position.

Indeed, Bjork is a super hero fan. Before he recently packed up his office at the administration building, the shelves were lined with his collection of DC Comics action figures.

Though the collection is stored away for now, even his coffee mug sports Superman’s big red “S.”

Bjork got his love of comics growing up in Mineola, making regular trips to Campbell’s Drive Inn on E. Broad to check out the latest adventure.

When he headed to Stephen F. Austin following graduation, the plan was not to stay in Mineola.

But he returned home in 1975 to help his mother care for his brother, and never left.

His took a job with what was then the First National Bank (now City National) for four years and then with Mineola State Bank when it opened. It went through a series of names and owners before closing.

Bjork became interested in what was going on in the school district while his children were in school and served on the school board from 1986-1994, resigning near the end of his third term to accept the position of business manager following the retirement of Lou Wagner.

The late John Abbott was superintendent at the time, and the two worked together again during Abbott’s tenure on the school board.

Bjork was ready to get out of banking. When the bank was bought out, he was assigned to loan grading, which meant being on the road to other branches. One was more than two hours away.

Bjork said he’s not sure yet what he will do with his collection, and he’s also not yet made plans for retirement.

He and wife Christiann, who also grew up in Mineola and taught in MISD, have two children and three grandchildren not too far away.

Bjork noted that it got to the point where there were a lot of things coming down the pike in education funding and said, “I don’t want to do that again.”

He said the past year has been one of the worst in terms of trying to figure out the district’s finances.

Basically it required districts to figure out how they would make ends meet with the newly-approved homestead exemption and what it would mean had that exemption not been approved.

“It was confusing to calculate it both ways,” he said.

During his tenure, the MISD budget has grown from around $7 million to $20 million this year. He’s also keeping up with the district’s $30 million construction fund, the district’s first major construction project in many years to build a new primary school.

Though the student population has not grown much during his tenure, the nature of education has.

For example, when he was in school there was one ag class, taught by current trustee Glen Dossett.

Now there are numerous opportunities for students in career and technical education, requiring more teachers in specialized fields.

Among those opportunities is the Mineola music program, which Bjork says has been completely turned around with its award-winning musical and marching performances.

As a life-long pianist, Bjork can appreciate that success.

His last day will be Jan. 31, as he has a number of federal reports to turn in.

When he started, there was very little reporting required.

There was not even a template to calculate state funding, but now the state basically tells districts what their tax rates will be using that template and tax values.

As Bjork transitioned toward retirement, he fielded much good-natured ribbing from the school board that they would not accept his resignation.

That level of support has been gratifying, he said.

MISD has been a good place to work, he added.

His parting words to the district, ”Thanks for the memories.”