District 196 Director of Finance and Operations Jeff Solomon is one of three school business professionals selected to receive a 2014 Pinnacle of Achievement Award from the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) International. Solomon was nominated for his work leading to development of a fee management system that District 196 parents use to sign up and pay for almost all of their children’s school-related activities and fees.
ASBO’s annual Pinnacle of Achievement awards and Pinnacle of Excellence Award recognize school business officials for outstanding practices and new ideas that have enhanced their schools and the lives of students in their districts. Whether by finding innovative ways to save money, add resources, or improve efficiencies, the accomplishments of Pinnacle Award recipients serve as success stories that can be replicated in other districts.
“Unable to find a cash handling system that satisfied all the elements on the district wish list, Solomon worked with several partners to develop one of the first truly comprehensive fee management systems in the nation,” the ASBO website reads. Using the FeePay system for the last two years, “the district has streamlined its business practices and centralized all of its schools with one common practice, one form and one process.”
FeePay offers online payment and registration for more than 100 items, including student activities, child care, transportation services, school meal accounts, community education classes and events, public use of school facilities, parking and lost book fees, to name a few, and there are no transaction fees assessed to the user.
Registration information that was previously submitted on paper forms is now collected during the registration process on FeePay. The system does not allow the user to complete registration until all of the required information has been provided or is on file with the school, such as a current physical examination form if one is required for participation in the chosen activity.
“By making it more convenient for parents to register and pay online, FeePay has helped our district achieve a goal of significantly reducing the amount of cash and check handling in schools,” Solomon said. Nearly half of school-related fees were collected online in the district’s first full year using FeePay in 2012-13, and last year the number jumped by 87 percent. This rapid growth in online payment has significantly reduced the time teachers spend collecting money for field trips and other school-related activities, time which can now stay focused on the task of teaching and learning.
“The success of FeePay is the result of the efforts of many people from our school district and TIES,” Solomon said. TIES is a technology collaborative of nearly 50 Minnesota school districts, including District 196. TIES developed FeePay with partners Arux, a developer of community education software, and BankCard Services Worldwide, a payment service provider.