Goshen schools wants more parents paying online for school lunches

Goshen schools is making it easier for parents to pay for kids’ school lunches online by eliminating a service fee.

Posted on June 9, 2014 at 7:27 p.m.

GOSHEN — Goshen schools wants to cut down the number of kids toting cash to school to pay for their lunch.

It would be more convenient for parents — and for school employees who must collect the cash — if parents could just pay for lunches online, using a credit or debit card.

A system called My Lunch Money is already set up for that, but just 40 or 50 families corporation-wide use that option according to Goshen schools’ business manager Jerry Hawkins.

He thinks parents don’t want to pay online because they are charged a $1.95 per transaction convenience fee when they do. That fee goes to the payment vendor rather than to the school corporation.

Hawkins asked the school board earlier this year to consider absorbing the fee, hopefully encouraging more parents to pay online.

The board voted Monday, June 9 to do that, starting in the 2014-15 school year. Two board members, Perry Haimes and Cathie Cripe, voted against the idea saying they don’t have enough information on how the plan could impact the school’s finances.

Board member James Ramer also voted against the plan, saying that he doesn't think it’s right for the school corporation to shoulder the fee for parents, some of whom could easily afford that fee.

Hawkins estimated this could triple the number of families willing to pay online.

The $1.95 per-transaction fee is “easily absorbed within the reimbursement we get from the federal government, therefore its not a strain on any local budgets,” he added. 

Parents will still pay a service fee when paying for textbooks online — the only fee paid by the school corporation will be the fee for lunch payment.

If this goes well, Hawkins predicts the school corporation may soon add expand the service to let parents pay by credit or debit in person. Currently, the school buildings are set up to only accept cash or check.

To find out more about My Lunch Money, visit the Goshen Schools website.

Follow reporter Lydia Sheaks on Twitter at @LydiaSheaks

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