Thanks to technology, Chinook's Edge School Division has been collecting fees and payments in a much more efficient manner.
Introduced about four years ago, the Acorn online payment system is used to pay for such things as activities, events and school fees, provides parents with convenience and frees up staff time and resources.
“The first online payments were received in September 2012. That's when we implemented it,” said Susan Roy, treasurer with the Chinook's Edge School Division. “They can pay for everything from school fees to hot lunch programs, to fundraisers.”
The online payment system is currently in use in several schools across the division, including 30 traditional schools as well as career high schools noted Roy. Schools using the program across the division include those in Innisfail, Sundre, Didsbury, Olds, Carstairs and Cremona.
“There's often a lot of different people involved (in paying for fees and activities). Sometimes there's volunteers with a fundraiser and sometimes it's school office staff that have to count the money (a second time),” she said, noting the organizational efficiencies with paperwork and calculating totals.
Since the Acorn payment program was adopted almost four years ago, there has been more than $2 million in online transactions within the Chinook's Edge School Division.
The program has greatly benefited teachers, volunteers and school staff, and has had a positive impact for everyone said Roy.
“It reduces the workload and makes it more convenient for parents,” she said, noting the increase in use over the last four years. “In the first year we only had $127,000 worth of online payments. That doubled the next to $259,000, and then it doubled the following year to $583,000, and this year by the end of June we think it's going to be $1,175,000. It's been doubling each year,” Roy added.
While it is in use today, it may take a little more time for all parents to become accustomed to the system noted Roy, pointing out some of the added benefits for teachers who must total cash and payments while often supervising students.
“It lowers the risk for us all,” said Roy. “The schools that have really gone forward with it and are doing a lot more with it, are gaining the most efficiencies.”
Moving forward, the division will continue with the online payment system said Roy, taking into consideration its overall success, convenience and popular use.