OAKLAND - About two weeks after pushing out her chief financial officer, the state-appointed administrator for the Oakland schools has hired an interim replacement.

As interim CFO, Leon Glaster will take over the difficult business of managing the school district's finances — and avoiding past missteps that plunged the school system into a fiscal crisis in 2003.

He also will face the ongoing task of forecasting the budget and "down-sizing" a system that is quickly losing students and money.

Glaster has managed school finances for the last 13 years - most recently in San Leandro, where he was known for tapping into new sources of funding and balancing the budget. When he retired in March, he left on a high note.

Minutes from a March San Leandro school board meeting show the district proclaimed March 20, 2007 "Leon Glaster Day." Board members and top administrators sang their appreciation for the assistant superintendent of business services through a "choral narration" before his departure.

No such public recognition was given to Javetta Robinson, who was apparently asked to leave over differences with State Administrator Kimberly Statham.

Robinson's sudden departure concerned many, including Alameda County Superintendent Sheila Jordan, who admired her work and worried the district would have no one in charge of the budget.

"There are so many crises in Oakland," Jordan said last week. "It's always hard to come to grips with a crisis that could have been avoided, should have been avoided."

She added that finding the right person to fill her shoes would be critical to the state-run district's recovery.

The appointment of Glaster, who served as assistant superintendent of business services in East Palo Alto and in the Franklin-McKinley School District in San Jose, could help fill the void - at least, in the short-term.

Glaster told school officials the opportunity drew him out of his short retirement. In a press release, he is quoted as saying, "I wouldn't have accepted this challenge if it hadn't been in Oakland. ... I jumped at the chance to contribute to Oakland because there's so much potential here."

E-mail Katy Murphy at kmurphy@oaklandtribune.com. Read her Oakland schools blog at www.ibabuzz.com/education.