As a child, his mom used to show him off to friends and family as the human calculator.
Now his job is to manage a budget that is nearly $100 million, and his affinity for numbers has certainly played a role in getting him to this point.
Jeremy Calles was voted in Tuesday as the new chief financial officer of the Kyrene School District by the governing board. He had previously served as the interim CFO and was the last candidate standing after a nationwide search.
"It's something I enjoy doing and something I've seen myself doing in the long run," said Calles, 35. "In my previous work I have found a niche and a passion for Arizona education ... one of the reasons is because I happen to have four kids."
Calles is approaching his second year at the Kyrene School District, after previously working at the Arizona Department of Education where he was involved with school finance.
In addition to his time at the DOE, Calles was an accountant in the U.S. Army for six years, first in Germany, then in Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
He held the interim position for the past six months, since the beginning of the school year, as the district brought in applicants from around the state and country.
Kyrene Superintendent David Schauer released this statement: "We conducted a national search for a qualified candidate. However, Mr. Calles has proven he is a most capable and appropriate person for the job and, our organization will benefit from this continuity of leadership. His background at the Arizona Department of Education has proven invaluable for us."
Kyrene faces an estimated budget shortfall of $5.6 million. Calles has been working with a team to brainstorm ideas of how to make up that amount - including outsourcing custodial jobs and making changes to the middle school model - and has presented it to the governing board. The district will have to make those decisions in the coming months.
But the budget and the budget shortfall are not just numbers to Calles anymore. It's what they represent that can make the job difficult at times.
"These numbers are tied to people's positions and livelihood, and that is kind of the wildcard for me," he said. "I've always loved numbers. (This position) is about thinking about the emotions behind the numbers."
Kyrene, like other public school districts in Arizona, has faced a decreased budget over the past few years, which has secured the state's place near the bottom of the list in per-pupil-funding.
"In many national reports, Arizona ranks last or second to last, and I think the citizens here have gotten tired of Arizona education being ranked so low," Calles said. "They are going to want to see our state improve, and I think we are going to be headed in a positive direction in the next five to 10 years."
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