PayPAMS allows parents to replenish lunch money
by JOYANNA WEBER, Banner Staff Writer
Mar 15, 2013 | 1189 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A new option for placing money in Bradley County Schools students’ lunch accounts became available to all students, and their parents, this week.

PayPAMS allows parents to put money in a child’s fund electronically through paypams.com. It also allows them to monitor how their child is spending lunch money and receive emails when the account is getting low.

The PayPAMS program was piloted at Charleston and Oak Grove Elementary Schools and Ocoee Middle Schools in January and February. PAMS stands for parent account management system.

Nutrition supervisor Emily Brown said the schools had been chosen to implement the program and work out any technical issues before it is expanded to the entire school system.

“We had computer questions, some software questions, but everything went pretty smooth,” Brown said.

Using the website to put money in a child’s account is optional.

“They don’t have to use the online payment system, but I want every parent to take advantage of the email notification system,” Brown said.

The emails notify parents when a student’s account is getting low.

The monitoring part of the program is free.

There is a $1.99 fee for parents who choose to use the website to put money into the account. This fee goes to PayPAMS, not Bradley County Schools.

Parents will still have the option to put money into their child’s account by going to the school. The new option is being made available for convenience.

“It’s all voluntary. You can always do it the old-fashioned way,” Brown said.

Just at the three pilot schools, the program has already been used to put around $2,500 in students’ accounts collectively. At the three pilot schools, 25 students were enrolled in the program.

Brown said in the future she would like to see 35 o 45 percent of parents take advantage of the online payment option. Money put into an account takes about two days to be credited to a student’s account.

“It frees up the staff time, so rather than a teacher taking up the money in the morning, it frees up her time,” Brown said.

The new system will also reduce the amount of checks and cash that are handled by students whose parents choose this option. Brown said the program will also decrease the number of calls from parents because they will be able to have many of their questions answered on the PayPAMS website. However, Brown said parents are still welcome to call with any questions they might have.

“I had so many parents asking about this system to be more convenient for them,” Brown said. “The feedback has been that it is just incredibly easy to use. The email notifications are very handy.”

Implementing the system has been at no cost to the school system because it uses equipment the school already used in the cafeterias.

Brown said the new system does add some work to preparing the monthly reports for the school system. Brown said it shifts some of the work from the cafeteria staff to the central office staff.

“It’s a little more work for us, but I think in the long term it will be worth it,” said Melissa Spencer, who is working with implementing the program.

Spencer said some schools menus have also been posted in the PayPAMS system. Other schools have the menu posted on the schools’ websites.