Barbara Donald's scam was discovered when a travel firm contacted the headmaster of Baldragon Academy in Dundee to say a cheque for a trip to France had bounced.
Donald was then confronted and she admitted she had taken the money.
She later told police she had taken the money to pay off debts of £25,000.
Dundee Sheriff Court heard Donald had taken out pay-day loans with interest rates of up to 2500% to pay the interest on catalogue debts.
Fiscal depute Donna Davidson told the court 41-year-old Donald had "almost direct financial control over all school funds".
Donald had the responsibility despite "appearing disorganised" in her role, said Mrs Davidson.
The prosecutor said: "She was employed at Baldragon Academy since January 1999 as administrative officer.
"Her duties involved looking after school accounts, paying bills, taking in cash from pupils for materials and school trips, etc, as well as other administrative duties.
"She was well respected and trusted in the school given her extensive period of service. Witnesses indicate the accused was disorganised but never appeared untrustworthy.
"Certain financial protocols were not always adhered to with regard to obtaining authorisation signatures and checking invoices – this was often put down to her being disorganised."
Concerns arose when a trip was organised in June 2010 for pupils and staff to go to France.
The final cheque was received by the travel company IBT Travel Group for £10,419 but it failed to clear.
The school was contacted and Donald said she would issue another cheque, but it too was returned. On Monday, September 6, the headteacher was contacted to say payment had still not been received.
Mrs Davidson said: "The accused attended the school at 12.05pm that day and admitted to the headmaster she had taken around £10,000 from the school fund.
"The matter was reported to the council and police immediately after.
"She was interviewed by police, where she admitted the embezzlement and stated she had serious financial problems and used the money to pay her creditors.
"She said she had debts of around £25,000 to 23 creditors in all.
"Inquiries were made to establish the exact amount missing from school funds. There was difficulty in establishing [this] due to the lack of receipts and erratic record-keeping by the accused.
"Much of this stemmed from the trust that was given to the accused in having almost direct financial control of all school funds without proper checks being made.
"The investigations revealed the total amount unaccounted for was around £30,000 comprised of monies from a number of sections within the school fund."
Donald, of Abercorn Street, Dundee, pled guilty on indictment to embezzling £30,000 between May 31, 2007, and September 1, 2010.
Her defence lawyer, Theo Finlay, said Donald had fallen into a spiral of debt.
He said: "She had catalogue debts and had taken pay-day loans to pay the interest on them.
"She has a pension fund of some £80,000 and she can pay £30,000 of that as compensation.
Sheriff Tom Hughes said: "It was a matter of alarm to the court the outrageous amounts of these pay-day loans."
The Sheriff jailed Donald for eight months and ordered her to pay £30,000 in compensation.
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