Joyce Manning, the bookkeeper at Brattleboro Union High School, is responsible for all the cash that comes in to the high school, Brattleboro Area Middle School and the Windham Regional Career Center.
"Anyone who has any money coming in – for foreign trips, theater and music productions, sports events – has to deposit the money with me," she explained in a recent interview.
"Everybody in the school deposits with me – in the high school, Career Center, and BAMS."
The cash falls into two large categories. One is for general funds, like tuition for special courses, and the other is the Student Activity Fund, or SAF, for extracurricular activities.
"I have two cash-boxes – one for SAF and one for General," Manning said. "I break the deposits down and do two different deposits. For the general account, I get all the money, and I deposit it myself at the bank.
"If it's SAF, I collect all the money, I organize a deposit, get it all ready to go, fill out a sheet and send it down to a bookkeeper at the Central Office, and she deposits it in the bank," Manning continued.
As an example, money from games and plays goes into the SAF account.
"For every game, I have to prepare cash-boxes – I give them so much money for each event, and then I take out the money that I gave them and deposit the rest," she said.
Manning's job goes far beyond taking in cash. She also helps BUHS and BAMS department heads and activity advisors document and track their spending through requisitions and checks. Most requisitions go through the Windham Southeast Supervisory Union Central Office.
"Principals have to OK the requisitions – then I put them into the system, send everything down to one person at the Central Office, and she makes them into purchase orders and mails them out, and sends copies back to me, for me to distribute to my department heads so they have an accounting for their budget," she explained. "They have to sign off when items come in so I can tell downtown to pay the invoices. Things that don't go through downtown, that's when my checkbook gets involved."
Manning operates two checkbooks. One is for petty cash, expenditures that are usually less than $50, such as mileage reimbursement for staff transporting students, or small purchases in the general account. The SAF checkbook is for paying officials who aren't already on the school district payroll as well as petty cash for activities. She must ensure that both checkbooks are balanced and have enough funds for the checks she will be writing.
"I reconcile those two checkbooks every month," Manning noted, "and I have to do the paperwork to have the checkbooks reimbursed at every warrant to keep them at the level where they're supposed to be." The BUHS District 6 Board approves warrants twice each month.
Manning started her career at the high school in 1983, working as a cafeteria monitor 19 1/2 hours per week.
"If they gave you 20 hours, they had to give you insurance," she recalled.
After working for a few years in the cafeteria, Manning was hired as the switchboard operator, a 10-month job, and then one April she got a surprising call from Bertie Sprague, the BUHS principal.
"Mr. Sprague called me at home during vacation and asked if I would like to be the bookkeeper, because the current one was leaving a week after vacation," she said. "I said, 'But I'm not a bookkeeper,' and he said 'Can you balance a checkbook?' and I said, 'To the penny, every month,' and he said, "Then you can be a bookkeeper,' so that's how I became the bookkeeper at Brattleboro Union High School."
For her first few years on the job, Manning's work was on paper.
"When I first started, I didn't have a computer," she remembered, "so I typed all the purchase orders – seven copies – by hand, and if you made an error, you had to erase all seven copies, so thank God for computers!"
While Manning works alone in her small office, the door is almost always open to a stream of staff and administrators, and she is constantly in contact with staff at the Central Office.
"I don't just work with people here at the high school," she said. "I work with people downtown and people at BAMS, and the principals – we all have to work together. Everything I do has to go through the principals.
"Every day is a surprise," she continued. "At least once a week something comes up – you never know what your day is going to be like. I always try to deal with people and make it easier.
"I depend on the people downtown very heavily because I never make a decision on my own," she said. "I always check – it's easier to get it right the first time than to try to fix it later, so I always check with the people downtown to make sure the procedures are right."
Manning said she likes her job – all of it.
"I love all the aspects of my job – I really do," she commented. "I enjoy doing my work, and I enjoy interacting with my department heads. There isn't really anything about my job I don't like. I look forward to coming to work every day and I work with a lot of wonderful people."
Maggie Brown Cassidy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.