NCSS may use online pay­ment sys­tem

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - DANIELLE EVER­SON de­v­er­son@cov­

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.

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