There’s nothing like spending a beautiful summer day inside the office; but that’s life for Saratoga Middle and High School secretary Dana Little.
When plenty of staffers are out enjoying the great outdoors of what Carbon County has to offer, she’s paddling up accounting creek.
Although her summertime duties seem vast, she’s usually sinking her teeth into number crunching.
To gain a bit more of a perspective into her numerical world, the Rawlins Daily Times recently caught up to her for a quick Q&A session.
RDT: Please state your name.
Little: Dana Little.
RDT: And what do you do?
Little: I am the high school secretary here.
RDT: How long have you been doing that for?
Little: I’ve actually been here almost a year, so I’m still very new in the position.
RDT: Where were you before this?
Little: I was working as the administrative assistant at the chamber of commerce, and here in Saratoga at the Platte Valley Chamber of Commerce, and then as well as working at the Platte Valley Community Center. I worked part-time for both of those entities since they’re housed in the same building in the community.
RDT: Did you work with a lot of numbers there?
Little: Not nearly as many as I work with here. There, I worked more in the personal side of it – customer service. I was the secretary, so I certainly filed and did that kind of work. But I was also the first person people saw at the visitors’ center down there.
RDT: Are you from the Carbon County area?
Little: I’m not. Originally, I grew up in Texas, in the Dallas area. I’m a big city girl, where I graduated in a class of 1,236; and here now, I work in a school where the graduating class is about 20… so it’s a little different. But I came out west to go to college, and then just stayed out here and made my way out to Saratoga for a summer job in college, and then just stuck around off and on.
RDT: Quite the journey. Where’d you go to college?
Little: Brigham Young University.
RDT: So, you say you deal with a lot more numbers in this position. How so?
Little: Well, I certainly had no idea how much money goes through a school, and how much paperwork goes through a school, to keep track of all that money – but that’s good. We deal with dozens of individual activity accounts here at the high school; each club fundraises a little bit and has to pay for their own T-shirts, their own activities, their own meals and things like that. So, keeping track of all of those funds – it’s just a lot of numbers.
RDT: So, all these accounting activities go by your desk?
Little: It goes through my desk, it doesn’t stop at my desk. It goes from all of my figuring, then it all goes down to central office. So, I can even write checks, but I can’t sign them. And so, lots of checks and balances. This is bill week this week, so I make sure all of the accounting is correct, all the billing is correct; I make sure that everything is actually expenses is that people here at the school spend, then it gets sent down to central office. They, then again, double check it, write any of the checks for anything that comes out of the general fund for Carbon County School District No. 2 that is assigned to Saratoga Middle/High School, and then it goes out from there.
RDT: Sounds like a lot of fun.
Little: Lots and lots of papers...
RDT: What are some of the high-point budget items?
Little: Obviously, building maintenance and repair. It just is one of the most expensive things in a school.
RDT: Are you guys dealing with that each year?
Little: Yeah. It’s just never-ending. Your schools start to get older, so there’s always just repair and maintenance. And It is what it is.
RDT: How old is this building?
Little: I don’t even know; probably in the ‘80s.
RDT: So, it still has some longevity left?
Little: And that is one thing that is just amazing here. I have been all throughout the country, in schools in Texas and Louisiana, in Montana and Colorado. And I have to say, one of the best things that I feel like in this school system – and it sounds weird – is how well the schools are taken care of between custodial. It makes a huge difference in the atmosphere of learning. And like I said, you wouldn’t think that is so important, but it really changes the kids’ entire attitude. And these schools maintained here in Carbon County are amazing to them.
RDT: What you’re saying is, cleanliness and neatness influence a student?
Little: It does. It allows and encourages them to learn.
RDT: How many students are here?
Little: There’s about 124 if I remember right?
RDT: On average?
Little: I think we’re right about that 125 for grades seven through 12.
RDT: Are you the only one here in the summer?
Little: I’m the only one here in the office full-time. Administration is here through June, and then again before school starts. But they have a longer break than I do.
RDT: What’s it feel like to be the only one in the office when other staffers are on break?
Little: I don’t mind it because I know there’s work that needs to be done.
RDT: Is summer school going on right now?
Little: It’s going on.
RDT: How many students are in it?
Little: There’s just a few, but it’s a good service to provide them to help them through to the next grade.
RDT: What’s the actual budget around here?
Little: See, that’s where I don’t even know if I can share that per se; I would have to talk to the business manager. It’s way more than you think it is – or what I, as a late person, thought it was. It’s just more expensive than you realize. Then you ask about another top budget item? It’s teaching supplies – but where it should be.
RDT: I thought bussing would take number two.
Little: Well, bussing probably is, but I don’t get bussing numbers because that’s a district thing. And, in Wyoming, transportation is reimbursed by the state. So, that makes a huge difference when you’re looking at the size of this district. Just the Saratoga area, the bussing goes all the way up to Walcott, and then down to the 130 junction and to all those ranches.
RDT: For this past legislative session, how did the education cuts influence Saratoga?
Little: I think it affected us just like it affected all schools in Wyoming. We’re feeling the cuts. You can’t have everything that you want, for sure. I have to be the bearer of bad news when teachers have requisition requests that they would like that they can’t necessarily have.
RDT: So, they’re not getting the supplies they need?
Little: Well, at times – but, probably, that they want. I think, again, Wyoming still funds their schools quite well. But we’re feeling the pinch.
RDT: Does technology play into the budget – does that dent the budget?
Little: I don’t get the technology. It is– and has to be – insane. Every student in our school has an iPad that is checked out to them. When you think about that, plus our computers in our computer lab and in our library, and teacher’s smart boards, and having to keep them and maintaining them…
RDT: On top of all this, do you still get a lot of face-to-face time with the students?
Little: I do. That’s why summer is a time when I can actually get a lot done, because I’m not going between being a nurse – our school nurses aren’t here full time; they’re shared with the whole district.
RDT: You wear that hat, too?
Little: Yes. I give medications and keep track of all of that; take temperatures.
RDT: What do you like most about this job?
Little: It is working with the kids, and getting to see them. There’s no doubt there’s also nice advantages in a small community like this – it’s a full-time benefited job. But I still enjoy working with the kids and working with the public. There’s not a day you don’t speak to multiple parents on the phone. And, like I said, getting help these kids out.”