Label P LB J20

Treasurer: Halsford Park Primary School

Tracey Poole, Halsford Park Primary School, East Grinstead, West Sussex (415 pupils)

Your PTA

  • How many people are there on your committee? 15 members
  • How long have you been Chair? 3 years
  • When is your busiest time of year? Both the Christmas and summer fairs, because there is so much to do. We do struggle for volunteers, which is what makes it difficult.
  • When is your quietest time of year? The summer holidays, though this is the time where I'm doing the Charity Commission report and finalising our accounts. There are no events to plan other than the AGM, as the new PT is elected in September.

Tips and advice

  • What's the best piece of advice you received before taking on the role of Treasurer? Don't be afraid to ask for help.
  • What advice will you pass on to your successor? My best advice would be to buy a coin counter - those are worth their weight in gold!
  • What have you gained from being Treasurer? I've learnt a lot about all the different licences you need for different events, eg, the alcohol licence and lottery licence, as well as filling in the Charity Commission reports.
  • What do you wish you'd known before becoming the Treasurer? I didn't realise that when I took on the role that I would have to learn a lot about all the different licences you need. I knew I would be able to handle and manage the accounts and everything without a problem, and I can use spreadsheets and everything. But there was the other side to the job, which I didn't have an inkling about before.
  • What is the best thing about being Treasurer? My role allows me to get involved with everything. You're always needed in some aspect of whatever is being organised, and you're involved in every event, and I think that's quite interesting. You also get to work with all different people working in different roles.
  • What do you think makes a good PTA Treasurer? Organisation is a big factor. I have a rolling spreadsheet that as expenses come in, I add to it and each month I tally this up, and ensure that the accounts match what we have in the bank. Keeping on top of the accounting is important, so that when you get to the end of the year, you don't have to do everything in one hit. Skills and experience with using spreadsheets are also important - it makes life so much easier than just using pen and paper.

Challenges in the role

  • What challenges do you face? There's frustration with trying to get expenses out of people sometimes. There's also difficulty with people that don't understand how much work is involved in producing the figures - they assume that if the fair has been at the weekend, they want the profit total on Monday. It's not as easy as that! Especially when we still have expenses to come in. You want to be certain on the figures before making them public. I took on the role originally thinking that's something I can just on with quietly in the background, and still be contributing to the PTA, but you still have to be quite straight with some people!
  • What is the most daunting task you have to undertake? The most daunting thing is handling the amount of money you get from the bank for the floats for events, and then taking the cash back to the bank at the end of the event. I use a wheelie case because I couldn't lift it, and these are really useful. The first year I did it, I used a bag pack to carry the floats, and was almost crippled by the time I got to the car! Walking through the streets with all that money can be quite daunting.
  • Have you had any disputes regarding payments with the school in the past? We've had no disputes, but sometimes the school assumes we can afford to pay for things, which we can't.

Handling money at events

  • What are your responsibilities during bigger events, like the summer fair? I pay any outstanding entertainment payments that require payment on the day. I also hand out all the floats, and visit stalls every 45 minutes to take away large amounts of cash and sort out any change requirements. I collect all the money from the stalls at the end of the year. I chase up any outstanding payments from sponsors or our silent auction. I also collect any insurance and risk assessment documents that we require for outside entertainment.
  • How do you go about obtaining and distributing the floats for each stall at a big event? I request floats from the bank two weeks before the fair, and pick them up the week before. I count out all the floats for the different stalls a few days before the fair. The amount each stall receives is dependent upon the charge of that stall.
  • What procedures do you have in place for the safe handling of money at events? I usually ask the Chair or Vice-Chair to watch over the money while I go round the fair checking stalls - I've never have someone like an 'Assistant Treasurer' before, but we've just had someone volunteer for this year.
  • What is your process for counting at the end of events? I have a coin counter, which saves me a lot of time.

Making and receiving payments

  • How does the school go about requesting funds? We have PTA meetings that the staff regularly attend, and they say 'this is what we want'. We check if we have the money, and if not then we tell them they'll need to wait until we run a few more events.
  • How do you go about giving money to the school? I write a cheque for the Bursar with a letter confirming what it is for. She lets me know the amount they need and what it is for.
  • Do you have a lot of interaction with the school bursar? Yes - she's one of the people who attend the PTA meetings. I work at the school, too, so I know her and get on with her well.
  • Do you use online banking? Yes, and I try not to keep any cash. I use either cheques or online banking. We have three accounts - one for the 200 club, a savings account, and a current account. We pay in a small amount each month into our savings, though we don't get as much interest on this as we used to.
  • What are the logistics behind taking cash from an event to the bank? I take the money home, and keep it there until the bank opens again on Monday.
  • How do you handle expenses? I have an expenses form - they fill in the date, the money they're owed, what they bought it for, and attach their receipts. It makes life a lot easier for me. The forms are something that the previous Treasurer passed on to me.

Stepping down

  • How long do you intend on being Treasurer? I'm happy to stay in the role while my children are at the school. My youngest is now in Year 2, so providing everyone is happy with what I'm doing, I'm quite happy to carry on doing it until my little one finishes.
  • Did you shadow the previous Treasurer before taking on the role? I shadowed the previous Treasurer. I took over the role but she was there to answer any questions and help with every event. The year before, I helped her with the summer fair, to know roughly what went on, and that worked really well. I also learnt about the licensing laws and our insurance cover through the previous Treasurer.
  • Do you intend on having your successor shadow you in the role before you step down? Yes. I think shadowing that person for a year is enough to help them learn enough about that role, with one big event like the Christmas or summer fair - there are so many different events to run, and there are different things you need to remember to do throughout the school year, so a year gives people enough time to learn all these things.

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