It’s probably a good thing Dr. Pamela Scales considers herself a math person. After all, as the new Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations, Scales is now in charge of overseeing many departments such as Financial Services, which annually balances Oakland Schools’ $337.5 million budget, and Auxiliary Services, Maintenance and Facility Operations, which ensures all Oakland Schools’ campuses function smoothly each and every day.
“I was a psychology student, but then I took economics and I really liked the analytical part of it,” said Scales. “I’m a math person so I liked all the charts and theories. I switched my major from there. I enjoy seeing a problem and figuring out how to fix it.”
And, for better or worse, Scales, who has a Doctorate of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix, a Master of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Detroit Mercy and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, has been in finance ever since.
For 31 years, Scales worked for the City of Detroit, most recently as its deputy chief financial officer.
“It was my second job out of college and I sort of worked my way up,” she explained. “I did budget and finance the whole time I was there.”
Scales was an appointee while working in Detroit and served under five mayors. She said she always delivered an honest budget report to her superiors no matter if the outlook was bleak.
“You always have to be true to yourself,” Scales explained. “My job was to say what I knew -- good or bad -- so they could make their decisions. I thought it was even more important to be honest and transparent at all times.”
When Scales saw the job posting for Oakland Schools’ assistant superintendent position, however, she became intrigued.
“I was looking to do something different,” she explained. “I really liked working in the public sector where you are doing something for the community versus for yourself.”
When she isn’t busy at work, Scales, who is the mother of two boys, 18 and 20, has been trying to learn the sport of golf. She said she has played on and off over the years, but now has decided to join a league.
“You are never going to be good until you commit on a regular basis,” she laughed.
Scales sees her role at Oakland Schools as one that advocates for each department she oversees, as well as the intermediate school district as a whole.
“I’m so happy I have a strong group of people here,” she said. “My goal is to support people in the way they need to be supported, giving good advice and making sure information is available to them.”
She wants to focus on expanding that same support to Oakland County districts.
“I want to assist districts with financial management, training, teaching and assisting so that everyone in Oakland County does well,” she said.
Sarah Davis is the communications specialist for Oakland Schools.