District Administration- August 2008 - (Page 56)
ProblemSolution SUCCESS STORIES FROM DISTRICTS ACROSS THE NATION System Lets Students Eat with Fingers By Don Parker-Burgard PROBLEM THE FOOD SERVICE ACCOUNTING system in Orangeburg Consolidated School District 4 in Cope, S.C., had issues: It didn’t shelter low-income students from the stigma of being labeled “poor.” Despite assurances of conﬁdentiality, information on who was receiving free and reducedprice lunches was leaking out. Many students urged their parents not to register them for free and reduced-price lunch, or they skipped the meal altogether. The system was also ineﬃcient for the district. Each student had a card with an account number; older students kept their cards while younger ones had them handed out and collected from them each day. Children would hand their cards to the cafeteria cashier, who would manually type in each account number. At the end of the day, staﬀ printed out a long receipt of balances. The district also realized that by not having an accurate count of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunches, it was forfeiting federal dollars. SOLUTION District administrators were considering an upgrade to the food service accounting system to address these problems when the superintendent at the time read about biometrics. Intrigued by the technology, which links a person’s computer record to a distinguishable physical feature such as a ﬁngerprint or a retina, he urged planners to include biometric systems in their evaluation of food service accounting systems. The district eventually chose to go with a biometric system from Food Service Solutions. The system was put in place for the school year 2001-2002. 56 August 2008 Students in Orangeburg CSD 4 register their cafeteria purchases with the swipe of a ﬁnger. Finger Math The Orangeburg district’s biometric system scans students’ ﬁngers for identiﬁcation, but this does not mean that students are “ﬁngerprinted.” “We do not store a ﬁngerprint image,” says Galen Reigh, senior developer with Food Service Solutions. “The system records 22 points on a person’s ﬁnger, and what is stored is mathematical—it’s a sequence of numbers.” With biometrics, there are no cards for students to keep (or lose), cashiers don’t have to manually type in an account number with every purchase, and balances for individual students are calculated on the spot. Moreover, security is much tighter, so students from low-income families don’t fear being stigmatized. Mitch Johns, president and CEO of Food Service Solutions, explains how the stigma can play out in districts. “In a dis- trict where 40 percent of the students are eligible for free and reduced-price meals,” he says, “you might ﬁnd that 38 percent of elementary school students are registered, 30 percent of middle school students are registered, and 22 percent of high school students are registered.” It doesn’t take a CEO, or a school administrator, to appreciate the cost to students and to districts, and those with the highest percentages of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunches, says Johns, can beneﬁt the most. The Orangeburg district, for instance, has enjoyed a 5-percent-a-year increase in federal funding since 2003. No Lunch Left Behind Angela Robinson, food service bookkeeper for the district, is impressed by how thoroughly the new system accounts for all students who are eligible for free and reduced-price lunches. “Parents will sometimes forget to register one or more of their children,” she explains. “Or sometimes an older child in a family will be sensitive to the stigma and will ask not to be included when parents register.” The software will search for these children and identify them as being eligible for free and reduced-price lunches. In addition, if a student who was eligible for free or reduced-price lunches the previous year has yet to register, the software will identify that student so that oﬃcials can send a letter to the parent asking for clariﬁcation. In general, the technology is designed to identify inconsistencies and other problems that may impede a district’s ability to receive subsidies. DA Don Parker-Burgard is copy editor for District Administration. District Administration RESOURCES Food Service Solutions www.foodserve.com/fsshome.htm Horizon Software www.horizonsoftware.com PCS Revenue Control Systems www.pcsrcs.com
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration- August 2008
District Administration - August 2008
8th Annual Salary Survey
Do You Know the Drill?
The Evolution of Notification Systems
How Well Does This Web Site Work?
Calendar of Events
Understanding the Times
District Administration- August 2008