Even with the lights off after hours at the central office, the new chief financial officer for Calhoun County Schools found her way through the rows of cubicles and desks to the back office – which starting this week is her new post.
“It’s kind of like a maze,” Parris said. “But I know this place like the back of my hand.”
It’s not just the office she knows well. Parris has spent most of her life in Calhoun County, after moving to Anniston from Carrollton, Ga., in 1983. And she knows the school system, having worked in the office for 16 years in various jobs, before taking the role of chief financial officer for Talladega City Schools in 2011.
“It really does feel like coming home,” Parris said about her new gig. “Calhoun County is my home. I’ve lived here longer than I did in Georgia.”
In fact, the only reason she left Calhoun County Schools in the first place was to gain experience that she hoped might land her the job she really coveted.
“I hoped that I would be able to get this job when I left,” Parris said. “That was the goal in taking the Talladega job.”
Parris initially moved to the area to attend Jacksonville State University, but had to temporarily halt her education when her daughter was born. After taking a job at Calhoun County Schools as a bookkeeper, she said she fell in love with the financial role of the school system. She went back to JSU to get her degree in management in 2010, working with faculty at the university to get the classes she needed to take the financial role for a school system.
Joe Dyar, superintendent for Calhoun County Schools, said Parris’ familiarity with the office, the job and the whole system made her a standout candidate and an obvious replacement for Leslie Bollendorf, who is leaving Calhoun County Schools to take over as chief financial officer at the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind.
“She understands our school system, the climate and the makeup, and she agrees with our goals and mission,” Dyar said. “She has great experience in various roles from bookkeeping to federal programs, and she brings experience as a successful CFO.”
Parris’ job will offer new challenges she didn’t face in Talladega, like working to balance the books for 17 schools as opposed to six, and working with an annual budget of $84 million. But she said being a familiar face, and knowing so many teachers and administrators throughout the county will help her ease into the new job.
But her main job, finding money and using tax dollars in the most resourceful way to help schools, isn’t too different from what she’s always done.
“It’s the same goals, just a different system,” Parris said. “You can really make a difference in students’ education with the things you can offer to them.”
Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.