The Pickerington Local School District recently rolled out a new service to allow parents to pay academic and extracurricular fees online.
At the outset of the 2012-13 school year, the district implemented the Infinite Campus student-information system which, among other features, permits school districts to manage student data and gather parent and student feedback while also allowing parents to monitor their children's academic performance.
Last month, an additional tool for the Internet portal was activated, allowing parents to pay their students' various school fees, including those for classes and pay-to-participate expenses, via online via the Infinite Campus system.
According to Keltah Houser-Siders, the school district's assistant treasurer, the new feature is being offered in part to cut district costs associated with ongoing mailings to parents about academic and extra-curricular fees.
It's also viewed as an added convenience for parents who wish to make direct and immediate payments to their children's schools or the district office via debit or credit cards, as opposed to sending money to schools with their children or taking or mailing payments to the district office, she said.
"They can access the fees and payments right there through their log-in to the portal," Houser-Siders said. "We're trying to reduce the amount of paper we're producing. So, it's a way for us to cut costs.
"We're also hoping (parents) enjoy the convenience of it. We think it will make life easier for everybody."
In November 2011, the Pickerington Board of Education unanimously approved spending $147,669 for a one-year contract with Infinite Campus, based in Blaine, Minn., and the implementation of a student-information system for the new school year.
It provides capabilities for entering student test and other assessment scores through an electronic grade book, building student schedules, tracking student attendance and managing many other student-related data needs.
Infinite Campus software also is accessible from mobile communications devices, such as smart phones, and allows for the creation of surveys, which district officials have said will help teachers and administrators gather parent and student feedback.
Information about the new payment option has been sent to district households through student-information mailings and building newsletters, and additional information is available on the district's website at pickerington.k12.oh.us.
"There's kind of a brief tutorial on our webpage about how to access it," Houser-Siders said.
In addition to making payments online through Infinite Campus, the system allows parents to view any school-related payments that are due, as well as confirm payments have been processed.
There is a $2 fee assessed to each online payment, but Houser-Siders noted parents with more than one child attending schools in the district can pay multiple fees for each student in a single transaction.
"There is a 'convenience fee,'much like for our (online) food service transactions," she said. "Food service charges $2 and we also will, and that's to offset our credit card merchant services costs."
Although payments now can be made online, the district will continue to accept cash and checks sent with students to school buildings.
Cash and checks also will be accepted at the District Office, 90 East St. However, checks mailed to the district must be made out to the Pickerington Local School District, and must include the associated student's name or student identification number to ensure payments are properly applied.
"We're still working through some things, but people seem to be getting used to (the online system) and are finding out more about it," Houser-Siders said. "We hope they'll find it useful."