Every day, some children bring their lunches to the school cafeteria counter only to realize there’s no money left in their lunch accounts.
It’s often because their parents forgot to add money to their prepaid lunch accounts, said Sue Bettenhausen, nutrition services director in the Scottsdale Unified School District.
She wants to make that a thing of the past.
“Parents come (to the school) and pay with a check or cash, and it is such a nuisance for them to keep up with their kids’ accounts and figure out when it’s time for them to replenish them,” Bettenhausen said.
A new service, up for board approval tonight, would allow parents to visit MyLunchMoney.com and set up automatic payments from credit cards or checking accounts, moving the money into their children’s lunch accounts.
“They can elect to automatically redirect their account when the balance gets down to a certain level, maybe $10 or $5, and never have to worry about their kid’s lunches again,” Bettenhausen said.
Parents would take on the cost of the service, paying $1.95 per transaction.
The lunch card system is the next step in a string of services the district is hoping to offer online for busy parents, according to internal auditor Kevin Price, who said that in addition to making things easier for parents, electronic payments are safer.
“Kids are less likely to be carrying money to school that a bully might want to take from them, or that they might lose,” he said. “It also reduces the number of people handling cash.”
The push to allow online payments for things like field trips and lunches will help busy parents out, said governing board president Jennifer Petersen.
“It’s an efficient way to go,” she said.
“There’s human error in things. Things can get lost. As a parent, often you’re paying things a couple of times because you just don’t remember if you paid it by check yet. If you pay online, you can go on and track it.”
The lunch payment service has already been piloted at four elementary schools, and Bettenhausen hopes it will be up and running later this spring.
The Scottsdale Unified School District already offers the following services on the Internet:
• Check grades, pay tax credits, pay for after-school programs Services the district is exploring:
• Field trips, sports fees, library fees, summer school/camps
Board meeting When: 5 p.m. today Where: Education center, 3811 N. 44th St., Phoenix Information: www.susd.org