Real Stories

At the request of this district, we have kept the individuals featured in this true story anonymous.

Realizing Financial Sustainability with Online Payments

The full financial benefit of implementing an online payments solution for school fees is often overlooked. When this school district decided to make their school fees available online, it was a top priority for them to implement a financially responsible solution. Using the School Cash Suite, the district recognized a more than 2x return on investment by increasing collections and reducing costs in ways they could have never imagined.

About the District

About the District

With approximately 50 campuses, this district was one of the largest in its state. Each year, the district collects around $4M in School Activity Fees. In an effort to increase parent convenience and improve the integrity of its financial information, the district was ready to implement an online payments system for its school fees. Constrained by a tight budget, the software cost and credit card processing fees associated with the project were a major concern. With the district having a clear vision of what they wanted to achieve, their focus turned to how it can be justified financially.

A Financially Smart Solution

A Financially Smart Solution

With financial sustainability as a major criteria in the vendor evaluation process, the district eventually selected the School Cash Suite. Several years after implementing the solution, the district reflected on their use of the system and conducted an exercise to quantify the financial return on investment that was recognized.

Travel and Time Savings

Travel and Time Savings

Perhaps the biggest benefit to the district is the increased operational efficiency and associated time saved by the system. The district’s school bookkeepers worked for 38 weeks during the year and are paid an average hourly wage rate of approximately $20. The district estimated that the School Cash Suite saved each secretary 3 hours per week by automating administrative tasks such as counting cash, recording deposits, distributing forms, performing bank reconciliations, and preparing reports. Across all its schools, this equates to an estimated $116,000 in efficiencies.

The district also realized real financial savings from a reduction in mileage expenses. School secretaries are required to drive to the bank to deposit the fees collected at their school. The district’s policy requires funds to be deposited at a minimum of once a week, or before a minimum threshold is collected. During the six busiest weeks of the school year, most of the district’s twelve high schools would reach the minimum threshold quickly, and often had to drive to the bank everyday of the week. The district would reimburse the secretaries at the IRS Mileage Rate of $0.54 per mile. Once fees were collected online through the School Cash Suite, secretaries were only required to make deposits once a week. With the number of bank trips being reduced, the district estimated it saved $1,555 each year in mileage reimbursements. Additionally, the district targeted visiting each school once per year to provide support and perform audits. Using a fully web-based system, district staff began to manage school finances remotely. The district estimated that the number of onsite visits was reduced by about 40 trips each year. With an average distance of 30 miles per visit, this saved another $648 each year.

Theft, Loss, & Mismanagement

Theft, Loss, & Mismanagement

When school fees are paid in cash and are handled by multiple staff within a school, the lack of internal controls creates an environment susceptible to funds being lost and stolen. Fraud doesn’t always manifest itself on the large scale that makes headlines. Oftentimes, it comes in the form of $20 “borrowed” to buy lunch. These minor, but frequent, incidences add up to be significant. Although the district didn’t have any recorded incidences of fraud, they knew that this didn’t mean it wasn’t occurring. Based on industry statistics and their cash collection process, the district conservatively estimated that 5% of fees collected in cash were being lost or stolen. Using online payments, cash/check collections decreased from $1,925,000 to 962,000 per year. As a result, an estimated $48,132 was protected behind the internal controls and audit trail of the School Cash Suite.

New Fee Collections

New Fee Collections

The convenience and accessibility of online payment platforms can result in schools actually collecting more fees from their parent and student communities. Previously, school-to-home communications relied on students bringing take-home flyers to their parents to make them aware of an upcoming fee. With the School Cash Suite, parents were given a complete view of all the fees available to their students in real-time. Email reminders kept parents up-to-date on fees that were about to expire so they wouldn’t forget about payments. Although hard to quantify, the district conservatively estimates that this resulted in a 2% uptake in student fee collections. The district particularly took advantage of the systems ability to carry over required fees that went unpaid. In the past, schools had no way of tracking this. Using the School Cash Suite, they were able to collect an estimated $4,717 that would have been forgotten about. Further, $10,000 of donated funds were collected through the district’s new online payment portal.

The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line

Using the School Cash Suite, the district realized a positive financial return of $181,052 annually, far exceeding the cost of the system. This doesn’t take into consideration the intangible benefits such as the improved accuracy in financial data, increased parent convenience, and higher employee satisfaction. Today, the district is consistently recognized for its exceptional financial stewardship. The Association of School Business Officials International has consistently recognized the district with its Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting.