Archive for Thursday, October 18, 2007

Board still cool toward credit

October 18, 2007

Parents continue to ask about it, but some Basehor-Linwood school board members still are reluctant to offer a debit or credit card method of fee payment to district patrons.

The issue was discussed in December 2006, with board members generally opposed to the idea. However, new information and ideas were added and the issue was presented again to the board at last week's meeting.

"We have a new fee schedule from Community National Bank, who will be administering it," Superintendent Bob Albers said.

The district would be charged a one-time $485 fee per machine used for the transactions, which is about $100 less than what was quoted for the service last year. Community National Bank also would collect a 1.35 percent fee plus 25 cents per transaction would be charged for debit card purchases while a 1.7 percent fee plus 25 cents per transaction would be charged for credit card payments.

These fees are also slightly less than fees quoted a year ago.

Board clerk and senior bookkeeper Pam Chenoweth said several districts in the area offer some sort of debit or credit card method of payment, including Bonner Springs, Lansing and Tonganoxie. She said Basehor-Linwood may be able to start out with just one machine in the central office and grow from there, depending on the popularity of the service.

"I have two concerns," board president Randy Cunningham said. "Who is going to pay (the fees) and how are we going to use just one machine?"

Cunningham said he was concerned the fees attached to offering the service would cost the district too much.

Chenoweth said several districts passed the transaction fees onto the patron pay with a credit or debit card.

"For the convenience, they are more than happy to pay the 1 to 2 percent fee attached to it," she said.

Using one machine, Cunningham said, was unacceptable because that meant credit card numbers would possibly be written down and transferred by hand between buildings to complete transactions, increasing the risk of identity theft or credit card fraud.

"Some of the districts are only doing it at the high school and middle school level because that is where they're seeing the most requests," Chenoweth said.

Albers said there have been 14 checks returned to the central office since August and some of the checks have been from Basehor-Linwood Virtual School students who walk out the door with the district's computers and textbooks to complete courses. Chenoweth said in most cases the district eventually receives the fees owed, accepting credit and debit payments probably would increase immediate collection rate.

"Just because somebody has a returned check doesn't mean they're going to initiate participation in the program," board vice president Patrick Jeannin said.

However, Chenoweth said offering the service isn't all about collecting unpaid fees. Some employee workloads would decrease and they would be able to use their time more efficiently if they did not have to spend so much time making phone calls about returned checks, she said.

The option also would provide a service to district patrons. A survey done in the Abilene school district was presented to board members that showed 64 percent of parents said they would pay by credit or debit cards if such payments were accepted.

"People are asking for the service," Chenoweth said. "Most people, anymore, that's the way they operate. Very few people carry cash and most people don't want to deal with checks anymore. It's the world we live in."

The board discussed the possibility of just renting the machines during enrollment time, but a general consensus on the matter was not reached.

"I suppose we're going to have to eventually do it," Cunningham said. "If we're going to do it, we need to have one at the middle school and high school. It's unacceptable to just have one machine. Personally, I don't want the liability."

Action items from the Oct. 9 meeting included:

  • The board approved, 7-0, attendance at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade for two members of the Basehor-Linwood High School Bobcat Dazzlers.
  • Approval, 7-0, of baseball and softball field improvements.
  • Appointment, 7-0, of Dayna Miller as the delegate for the Kansas Association of School Board Convention in December and Doug Bittel and Eric Dove as alternates.
  • Approved, 7-0, Board of Education policy chapter H for final reading.
  • Tabled, 7-0, Board of Education policy chapter I for first reading.
  • Approved, 7-0, Board of Education policy JDDC concerning bullying for first reading.
  • Met in executive session for approximately an hour and 15 minutes to discuss non-elected personnel and confidential data relating to financial matters.
  • Tabled, 7-0, approval of the AllofE Agreement until November.
  • Approved, 7-0, payment of $4,000 to AllofE for services provided in the month of October.
  • Approved, 7-0, the appointment of Randall Hickman, high school custodian, and the resignations of Heidi Hill, Parents as Teachers teacher, Doug McClure, Basehor Elementary custodian, and Josh Jones, buildings and grounds maintenance.

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