New Financial Officer Guardedly Optimistic

Kim Stallings, new chief business and financial officer who replaced Tomio Nishimura this month, is no stranger to public education. For the past five years he served as Norwalk-La Mirada’s assistant superintendent, Business Services, where he was voted Administrator of the Year in 2003. "Long Beach has a great reputation not only for its educational programs but for the quality of the employees here," he said. "It’s a large district but it really doesn’t feel that way. It’s like a large family. I feel so honored to follow in Tomio’s footsteps." He began his career as a mathematics and computer science teacher in Los Angeles and Simi Valley unified school districts. He became budget analyst for El Monte City School District, assistant business manager at Lake Elsinore Unified, assistant superintendent, business operations for ABC Unified and assistant superintendent, administrative services, for Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified. Besides balancing demanding budgets in lean years, Stallings literally wrote the book on school finances--three college textbooks, in fact: Introduction to School Business Management, California School Finance and, most appropriate today, Stretching the School Dollar. The textbook on state school finance he co-authored with his father, Dr. John Stallings, head of USC’s doctoral programs in educational administration for many years. Kim Stallings worked from 1979 to 1996 as a consultant, collecting data and analyzing school district facility master plans, reorganization, redevelopment, enrollment projections and asset management. Born and raised in Southern California in a family of teachers, he, both of his parents and his two sisters all taught in public schools. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at USC, specializing in school business. He now teaches school business administration as an adjunct professor at USC’s School of Education. Stallings has received many awards, including the PTA Distinguished Service Award, ACSA Member Advocate Award and the AASA Finis E. Engleman Award. Despite recent state cuts and continuing progress in recovering from California’s budget meltdown, Stallings doesn’t see immediate relief in sight. "When the dollars do come in, the state will be paying off the debt for many years," he said. Even with economic growth, debt service cost reduces what California schools will receive. Other rising costs, such as health care and workers comp, also reduce what’s available for the education of children. "Despite these challenges, schools here are doing an amazing job of meeting the challenges in accountability and setting and achieving goals. But our job is made more difficult because of the unsupportive economic conditions we have to cope with. We are guardedly optimistic that there will be a moderate increase in revenue in the years ahead. But I don’t foresee an expansion of economic growth and any windfall of revenue like we had at the turn of the century." Even in the face of difficult economic times, he finds his greatest satisfaction in providing attractive, well-maintained school environments where students, teachers and employees can see at a glance that learning is prized and expected. "Teaching is the most valuable profession there is," said Stallings. "I don’t think there is anything more important in this country than public education."