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School Business Managers are the backbone of schools. They are essentially an entire human resources department, first aid officer, accountant, communication expert and multitasking administrator all rolled into one. From applying band-aids to skimmed knees, to booking buses for excursions, from answering all the enquiries as the face of the school, to processing invoices, Business Managers do it all. Often all at the same time. Today on School Stream, Stacey Hawkins walks us through a typical day as the Business Manager at Prenzlau State School. A massive thank you to Stacey for taking the time to share your experience and insights. 

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The School

Prenzlau State School is a lovely, heritage listed school of 63 students in Prenzlau which is just over 200kms west of Brisbane. The school describes itself as “Old World Charm with New World Teaching and Learning”. Prenzlau State School is a high-performing school that marries the benefits of a small, close-knit school with their strong commitment to providing a dynamic, future-oriented, learning environment. They are the embodiment of their motto: “Friendship and Learning”.

School Stream & Prenzlau State School at a glance

Number of students: 63 

Years using School Stream: 2.5 years

Parents/families using School Stream: 76

Savings: $6,429.45 (from March 2018 – September 2020)

Meet the Business Manager

Stacey Hawkins is the Business Manager at Prenzlau State School. She knows the community very well – her children attended Prenzlau and she was also on the P&C. 

What are the main responsibilities of your role? (Spoiler: just about everything!)

“Well, the school parents see me as the admin. I take their money for camps, uniforms, the yearly resource payments and that kind of thing. I’m their first point of contact when they visit the school or contact us on the phone – so there’s the reception type work. I also do absentees after the roll is marked and I contact the parents of the absent kids who haven’t let me know yet. I do all the finance things like processing invoices, reconciling and managing the corporate cards and other receipts. I manage the timesheets for the teacher aides, the groundsman and the cleaner. I also look after the contracts for our staff and process their start and finish dates. I look after the sick bay and communicate with parents – you get to notice if there is a pattern going on – for example, is this child always coming to sick bay at the same time as maths? I know the kids really well. I organise the buses, prepare everything for excursions and do the permission slips – using School Stream – and I make sure the teachers and parents have the information they need. I also do the building facilities and maintenance – allocating funds for painting and other work.  We’re a heritage listed school so that restricts everything we do. If I want to get prices for new sail shades, for example, I also have to liaise with the heritage department.” 

What do you love about your role?

“I love the variety. The same tasks do have to be done every day – I just roll with the punches.”

Are there some challenges in your role? Every job has something.

“There’s a lot of juggling. I’m fairly new to education in Queensland and so I’m learning all the Queensland processes. I try to figure out what the staff need from me to help them in their day. We’ve got four teachers including one teaching principal – so I have limited access to him.”

Has COVID-19 added any complexity to your role?

“We did do some homeschooling but we still had quite a few students here. I was busy making calls to families schooling at home to see how the school could support them. In other ways it was quieter; parents couldn’t visit the office for things, there were no drop-ins or salespeople coming in and we had fewer visitors from the department.”

You use School Stream at Prenzlau State School. Was it easy to set up and learn?

“I love it. It saves money and time. If you get an email from the local council about holiday programs or things going on, you save the pamphlet, you open School Stream, and drop it in and it’s done. Within minutes, you’re all finished. If you have to print it, then trim or staple it, it’s time and also the cost. You do have to learn to set up the forms and stuff at the start.”

“The internet is pretty bad in this area, but you just jump on School Stream do what you have to do and then log-off and it’s done. If you contact the support team, they can answer any questions right away. Then they email you the call log so you can save it and then you have all the links if you need to look at it again.”

How have your parents responded to using an app for school communication?

“Parents have responded well. We have encouraged them to use it and taught them how to do it from the start. From my position, it’s teaching the newcomers. Once they know how to do it, they use it.”

What features do you use the most?

“The cards. I send messages out to parents this way. Things like: ‘Book Club is in. Come and collect your order from the library’ and ‘Campers are leaving now – please collect at normal time’. I use the messaging a lot too, especially for absentees. School Stream makes that so much faster because you just cut and paste the same message for everyone and it saves phone calls and texts.”

Thanks again to Stacey for sharing all the insights and experiences from her role.

Talk to us about using School Stream at your school. Let’s get started.