So for my SME interview, I kept it at home and interviewed my boss Yona Wade. I can genuinely say, I have never learned more from anyone person my entire life. He has been the best thing to happen to me professionally. Below I am linking a video that has a little background on Yona. He was the 2019 AISES Indigenous Excellence Awardee.
What is the most critical skill to have when handling and managing budgets?
For us here at Cherokee Central Schools, that would be organization. Since our finances are contracted out for the Cherokee Boys Club to handle, each of the items we process is passed through several people’s hands. This can work beautifully if the parties involved stay organized. Here is an example, I make a purchase, our admin processes it for finances approval, then it goes to the AP clerk, then it is ordered, AP clerk handles the bill, and then it sent to the boys club to be put into the system. We are currently managing things with excel on our end, which can get off track quickly if we do not make sure to input everything correctly.
What would you consider the most important things to remember when making a budget?
This isn’t very easy because there’s just so much to remember. This year the budget looked slightly different due to Covid and budgets being reduced. If I had to pick one thing to say, the most important would be ensuring that you have all the small details covered that you might not consider. Examples would be maintenance and replacements. I like to cycle out new computer equipment every three years. I do this with a staggered buy. The process means that one year it’s my computer that gets an upgrade, and then the next, it yours. This way we only have to budget for one computer per year, but we can keep up-to-date equipment. This helps cut down the costs of repairs and emergency replacements.
Unfortunately, those are the only uniform questions we discussed that apply to this class. We spent most of the time reflecting on my growth with my time in the department. This was also very important. Yona is big on self-evaluations. This keeps my ego in check and helps me see my weaknesses. We talked about what I need to concentrate on when it comes to better working with our finances there at the school. We came to the decision that I need to better match the organizational practices of our admin. I am bad to get all the paperwork filled out and then hand it off. In reality, it would take me just a few additional mins to input the requisition into the system and label it as entered. We handle a lot of money, and with the new grants pouring in from the COVID relief plan, we have double the amount we hold. This can get overwhelming at times for our admin, and I am not hurting anything. We must all chip in and help during these difficult times.
I had a great time sitting down and taking the time to talk to Yona about all of this. I was able to speak with him about where I was in school and how we can adjust things here in the department to help me be more successful. It was very productive overall.