GCPS needed a way to alleviate the time-consuming, labor-intensive process of entering registration information and handling the cash and checks received at orientation. The district was also aware that parents were spending too much time filling out papers and writing checks, rather than meeting the teacher and spending time in the classroom during orientation.
The district opted to take full advantage of the MyPaymentsPlus solution to address these issues. MyPaymentsPlus not only handles meal payments, it also includes modules that provide an easy way to manage registrations and payments of all types district-wide.
MyPaymentsPlus allows parents to manage their children’s meal accounts, as well as fees and activities, through an interactive web page or over the telephone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, using a debit card, credit card, or e-check. The user-friendly system makes it easy for parents to view account balances, make online payments, monitor their children’s meal purchases, and review fee and activity payments and registrations.
For the 2010-2011 school year, GCPS began using the additional MyPaymentsPlus modules at a handful of its schools as a pilot before launching the solution throughout the district. This initial phase involved using the solution during orientation for parents to complete registration information and pay contributions, course fees, locker fees, parking fees, etc.
Many of the schools participating in the pilot saw reductions in staff workloads during registration and parent feedback was very favorable. Those leading the project noted that the system is a means of reducing costs and improving parent satisfaction. Horizon assisted the schools with crafting a detailed plan for getting the word out, and the schools followed through by taking the necessary steps to make the pilot a success.
The staff at one school, Riverside Elementary, sent a letter to parents about registering their children online. The letter was enclosed with students’ report cards at the end of 2009-2010 school year. They also sent a series of emails during the summer encouraging parents to use the MyPaymentsPlus system for registration before coming to the school on orientation day. Information was also posted on the school’s website and a reminder was included in their mid-June newsletter.
The Local School Technology Coordinator (LSTC) at Riverside, Bradley Robertson, reported that 93% of the parents completed the registration process online. At orientation, for those who had not already completed the registration process, Mr. Robertson provided access to computers for parents to use. With MyPaymentsPlus in place, the school had to process only $6.00 cash at orientation.
In prior years, the school received approximately $96,000 at open house requiring more than a week to process and deposit the funds. The online registration saved time and labor for the school as staff did not have to enter the registration information from hand-written forms.
Another school, North Gwinnett High School, experienced similar results. Principal Ed Shaddix and his staff sent two mailings to parents instructing them to use the online system for registration. They had been prepared to bring in a team of paraprofessionals and clerks to handle the payments received and forms completed during orientation, but they only needed two people this year.
In addition to the labor savings, Mr. Shaddix cited the reduced paper cost. “The paper savings are huge,” he remarked. With forms being completed and signed electronically, the school had to use very little paper for the entire process.
North Gwinnett High School also used the online system for Advanced Placement (AP) testing registration and payments. The vast majority of participants used the online system, saving the staff considerable time and effort. “It helped that the parents were already familiar with the system from meal payments and orientation,” observed Mr. Shaddix, saying that parent feedback was positive. “Parents walked away feeling good about the school,” he commented.
Based on the success of the pilot, GCPS will offer the option for all Gwinnett schools to use this online resource for the next school year. The district can expect both labor and cost savings when all 130 schools are using the registration and payment modules of MyPaymentsPlus.
With the new system, schools will no longer need to send out all of the paperwork for parents to complete before the start of school.
That will save not only paper, but postage and handling as well. Large documents, like student handbooks, can be made available online through MyPaymentsPlus and the required forms can be completed and signed electronically.
GCPS also realizes that parents will appreciate not having to write the same information over and over again, especially if they have multiple children attending school in the district. Some parents commented, “Entering the information online was so much better.”
The administrative staff also had favorable remarks, such as “No more hand-written forms so legibility is no longer an issue!”
With the successful pilot, GCPS is poised for more schools to use the additional MyPaymentsPlus modules during the
their registration process. The anticipated results? Long-term benefits of labor and paper savings along with added convenience for Gwinnett families.