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Hard work and dedication make this office much more than just “business-as-usual”

March 2, 2012

The women of the Monticello Schools Business Office are the unsung heroes of the educational process. From payroll to tax collection, budgeting to employee benefits, personnel to purchasing, these hardworking ladies are responsible for the behind-the-scenes daily operations required to keep the district running smoothly.

At the helm, sits Denise Cedeira-Thornton, a numbers-savvy business administrator who knows how to tap into the plethora of talent and experience of her staff members. At her side is administrative assistant Chris Rice, who after more than 14 years of maintaining special education grants, coordinating district and student insurance claims, managing state reporting requirements and weathering a dozen-plus budget seasons, has become one of the district’s best resources of historical information.

Accountant Elizabeth Terwilliger begins and ends her days with the finer details of every number that comes across her desk. This includes monitoring all aspects of the school budget, federal grants and capital projects. Her work ethic of meticulousness and accuracy has set the stage for numerous accolades from external auditors.

Payroll clerks Sally Richardson, Merle Friedlander and Jean Miller are known as the tag-team specialists who know how to get the job done. In addition to helping Sally with the payroll for Monticello Schools’ more than 800 employees, Merle doubles as the face of the tax collector’s office – a position that requires her to be sensitive to the needs and struggles of the taxpaying community. Jean doubles as the benefits coordinator handling health insurance, disability, workers compensation and more.

When it comes to data, Cathy Travis has traditionally been the person to call. As the attendance and census clerk, she tracks many of the statistics needed to create state and local reports. Now after almost 24 years, Cathy will be saying goodbye when she retires this July. Although she will miss her office buddies, her plans to travel, spend time with family and do some of the things she has always wanted to do will surely keep her days filled.

Completing the three floors of the business office is personnel specialist Jannetta MacArthur – Monticello’s one-woman human resource powerhouse. Her job begins before dawn calling substitute workers and teachers. It then fills her day with many responsibilities such as applications, certifications, employment postings, civil service and retirement.

Two years ago, Monticello Schools began utilizing some of the services of the Sullivan County BOCES Central Business Office (CBO). At that time, accounts payable and purchasing were consolidated as a way to save the district money. Presently, Abbie Bivins and Nance Poyer work through the CBO. Although no substantial savings have been realized as of yet, it has been a cost effective endeavor with a forecasted monetary benefit for the long-term.

The Monticello Schools Business Office is located at 237 Forestburgh Road in Monticello. The office is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and can be reached via telephone at 845-794-7702.

The Monticello Business Office employees

Photo: From left, Monticello Schools Business Office members Elizabeth Terwilliger, Sally Richardson, Jean Miller, Cathy Travis, Denise Cedeira-Thornton, Chris Rice, Jannetta MacArthur and Merle Friedlander. Ms. Cedeira-Thornton, who began as the school business administrator in September 2011, commended her business office team and stated, “thanks to their hard work, dedication and commitment to excellence, we can fully support the needs of our students and staff.”