Payments for a number of school-related activities may soon be accepted online.
Peggy Bullard, business manager for Newton County Schools, presented a recommendation to the Board of Education at its Tuesday work session to allow parents and students to make school-related payments using the online system “MyPaymentsPlus.”
The Horizon Software International “MyPaymentsPlus” system is already used in the school district for student food services, such as school breakfast and lunch payments. However, Bullard said the payment system could be used for other school-related activities.
“What we’d like to do is expand it to all the money that comes into schools for other things like field trips, parking … even, hopefully at some point, to football games, where people can use their checks and debit and credit cards to make payments,” Bullard said.
According to information from the school system, more than $3 million in payments, cash and checks, goes through school system’s principal accounts each year. Georgia Department of Audit requirements dictate that these funds should be counted, receipted and secured by multiple school personnel daily.
In addition, school personnel sometimes must take multiple trips to the bank each week to deposit these funds. School system officials said the collection and processing of the receipts is time-consuming and labor-intensive.
Bullard explained to the Board that the main reason for using the online payment system would be to limit the amount of money being handled by school personnel. She added that she has talked to officials with the Gwinnett and Cobb County school systems, who’ve both reported that they’ve had success in using the online payment system.
“We want to stop having all of this cash because it can get lost, stolen or mishandled, and they say at Gwinnett that the schools that have really heavily used it — they are sort of slowly rolling it out to their schools — that they have more money in the bank because they are using it,” Bullard reported to the Board.
Under the proposal, “MyPaymentsPlus” would be used for payments such as parking fees, school pictures, football tickets and after-school programs. Bullard said the cost to use the system is a transaction fee of 4.29 percent, which she recommended be included in the cost of products and services provided.
“What we would like to do to help offset that fee is, for example, if you charge $10 for a t-shirt, you would charge $10.50 for a t-shirt, and that would help absorb the fee,” she said.
BOE chair Abigail Coggin, who already uses the online system for her son who attends a Newton County School, noted that the fee is a small price to pay for the convenience.
“I don’t mind paying an extra fee because it’s so much simpler than sending money in with my son,” she said. “There is no telling where it may end up between the house and home.”
School officials noted that the “MyPaymentsPlus” system keeps a record of all transactions, so that parents and authorized school personnel can see online what has been paid. The overall goal is for the system to be used to its fullest capacity, with school personnel having little or no cash transactions to deal with.
The Board will vote on the proposal at its 7 p.m. Jan. 21 meeting.