Our hearts are heavy at Des Moines Public Schools over the death this past weekend of Thomas Harper, our Chief Financial Officer and secretary to the School Board, and our condolences go out to his family and friends.

Thomas joined DMPS in 2011 after holding a similar position at the school district in Billings, MT and spending a career in accounting and finance. His work on behalf of DMPS earned numerous awards from the Government Finance Officers Association and the Association of School Business Officials.

Cindy Elsbernd, chair of the Des Moines School Board, made the following comments at the February 19, 2019 meeting of the Board:

“Sadly, we have an empty chair at tonight’s Board meeting.

“Late Sunday afternoon, Thomas Harper, our chief financial officer, passed away.

“In his position Thomas also served as the secretary to this School Board. And in that role he not only sat here with us during our meetings but worked closely with us throughout the year on a wide range of topics.

“Thomas joined DMPS nearly 8 years ago, moving here from Montana where he held a similar position with the Billings school district. He came here at a critical time, as we entered what has been an extended period of historically low growth in education funding by the state of Iowa.

“But, thanks to both his sharp mind as well as his passion for education, Thomas did everything possible to make sure the financial challenges facing public schools had a minimal impact on our students. In fact, he did everything possible to find the means for us to do even more in support of our students until the very end.

“I know we all have heavy hearts at Des Moines Public Schools over the loss of our colleague, and I also know we all send our condolences to his family and friends.”

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