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Kelsey Bailey.

Given the environment surrounding public education in central Arkansas, and by that we mean specifically the Pulaski County desegregation case, overseeing a school district's finances represents a sometimes daunting task.

It's a good thing that Kelsey Bailey, chief financial officer for the Little Rock School District, likes working with money. It's why he chose accounting. Unfortunately for the LRSD, there's less of it to work with than there used to be.

Partly because of the settlement in that federal desegregation suit, the Little Rock district has seen a revenue decrease, from $348 million in 2012 to $328 million this year. Meanwhile, the district's budget increased in that same time from $332 million to $334 million.

"Our greatest challenge at the moment is getting our operations to an efficiency point to withstand the reduction of approximately $42 million within three years due to the desegregation settlement while still offering a quality, equitable education to all students," Bailey said.

Bailey oversees finances for the state's largest district, with 4,143 employees and more than 25,000 students. Aside from dealing with decreasing revenue, Bailey said some of his biggest challenges include getting staff to "think outside the normal box of school business to utilize technology more to succession plan for their departments."

He deals with such challenges by leading by example and inspiring and motivating those he leads to reach greater heights.

Bailey said his job requires the ability to deal with difficult situations and make good, sound decisions.

"Also, never pass up an opportunity to learn," he said.

Bailey joined the LRSD staff as CFO five years ago after serving as director of financial services at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Bailey called becoming controller at UALR at age 30 among his greatest work-related accomplishments.

The Fordyce native started his career as financial manager/staff accountant with New Horizon Community Development Corp. in his hometown. From there, Bailey moved to Little Rock to take a position as project manager for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, where he completed general ledger analysis for UA MS outpatient clinics. Before moving on to UALR, Bailey served as position control and payroll manager for the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service in Little Rock.


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Title Annotation:interview with chief financial officer of Little Rock School District
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1U7AR
Date:Oct 27, 2014
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