The Burnaby school district is going cashless.
Parents of children at several local schools can now pay for things like field trip fees and yearbooks online.
"It's sort of like PayPal, you need to be signed up," said Lynda Kerr, the district's accounting and audit officer who helped implement the system. "(Parents) can see the fee with a description of what that fee is all about."
The system is called School Cash Online, and it can be used to pay fees for field trips, concerts, Grade 7 camping trips, yearbooks, graduation and advanced placement exams, for example. On the school's end, the secretary or bookkeeper can upload fees applicable to each student. Parents can log in and find the names of their children online and what fees need to be paid.
From the parents' point of view, the system is very simple, Kerr said. To sign up, parents need to go to the site and register themselves with their name and address, and they'll receive a confirmation email. Once they've signed up, logged in and found their child's school and profile, they can see what fees are payable, with explanations on what the money is for.
All of Burnaby's secondary schools and eight elementary schools have been using the system since September. Most of the remaining schools will be using School Cash Online in the coming months. The district implemented the system to help manage the money going into schools.
So far, the School Cash Online system is only accepting e-cheque payments, which requires the banking information printed on cheques. In order to keep the costs down, the district is not accepting credit card payments with the online system.
"We wanted to make it simple to start with. This is our first year we're implementing this at a number of schools," Kerr said, "and we don't want any of the costs transferred to the parents."
According to Kerr, there's more transparency and convenience for parents, and finances are easier to track electronically. The new sys-tem is optional, and parents can still pay by regular cheque or cash.
Information provided through School Cash Online is secure, according to Kerr.
"It is secure, it's kept on a secure server," she said. "The information is kept in Canada, even though KEVgroup (which runs School Cash Online) does have a U.S. office, . all the information is kept in Canada."
For more information, or to sign up for online payments, go to www.burnaby.school cashonline.com.