What is a School Commerce Platform and 5 reasons your district needs one

Posted by Emily Schoeneck on May 20, 2024 11:15:00 AM

Each year schools are responsible for collecting, tracking, and reconciling thousands of student payments across multiple programs. From lunch money to exam fees and everything in between, managing payment collection district-wide is typically a complex and decentralized process. Districts will often find that their school sites and student programs use various methods and software platforms to help them manage payment collection. The athletic department may have a specific application for registration fees, while the before and aftercare program uses another for their enrollment payments. That doesn't even account for all the areas where staff may still be manually collecting physical payments and paper forms, forgoing a software platform altogether. 

This decentralized approach to school payments ultimately results in larger challenges. Without one centralized platform district leaders lack financial oversight, schools are juggling multiple vendor relationships, and countless staff hours are being spent managing the entire payment collection process. With a School Commerce Platform districts can centralize payment collection with one platform that's designed to meet the needs of any type of student program and fee. Robust payment platforms have built-in flexibility that facilitates the collection of any type of student fee, whether it needs to be collected in-person, online, or be invoiced directly to parents.

Here are 5 reasons why your district should consider a School Commerce Platform:

Everything in one place

Regardless of whether your district is big or small, a School Commerce Platform, like MySchoolBucks, is vital to tracking every type of school payment in one place. From managing lunch money to school activities and everything in between, having all your information in one platform will help save time and streamline operations. And using a single platform ensures you have one vendor to partner with for support, training, and implementation needs. 

Additionally, all data can be managed within one system, making tracking and reporting fee payments easier. School finance administrators and bookkeepers will have a unified place to access important reports for reconciliation across all types of school fees. 

Less cash handling

With all of the payments that your school needs to collect, having a system that can handle these funds online has a number of advantages. Everything can be tracked electronically instead of manually, reducing the amount of time your staff spends collecting, managing and tracking cash and check payments.

In the cafeteria, staff no longer need to collect cash or checks at the register, which can help speed up the serving line so students get to spend more time enjoying their food instead of waiting in line. Having a centralized School Commerce Platform also gives parents one place to pay for all their student’s fees. 

Streamlining fee collection

One of the biggest processes that occurs within a school is assigning and collecting required student fees. With so many students to keep track of, notifying parents when payments are due and manually collecting these fees becomes cumbersome, overwhelming, and time-consuming. By utilizing a School Commerce Platform, you can easily assign fees to students and send reminders to parents when payments are due. Schools can set up recurring reminders to notify families of any outstanding invoices. With automatic payment options, parents can easily ensure important invoices are paid on time, and their student’s meal balance is never low.  These features not only ensure fees are collected but it also makes the whole fee management process easier for students, parents, and your school staff. 

Ease the accounting and auditing process

When payments are collected through various platforms, as well as accepting cash and check, reconciliation becomes more complicated. With everything in one place, bookkeepers can access important transaction information and account details to streamline the reconciliation and auditing process. With a platform like MySchoolBucks, finance staff members can filter reports with the exact information they need and download in the format they need for their accounting system of record.

This can turn the process of reconciliation, which typically might take bookkeepers days to do, into a much simpler task. In fact, Leeds city school district partnered with MySchoolBucks to streamline this exact process, and are able to save a significant amount of time and work for all staff and faculty. When speaking with Ryan Miller, the CEO of Leeds City, he spoke to how MySchoolBucks saved countless hours for him and his bookkeepers:

“It's giving me more time back. I can reconcile one bank account, that has thousands of transactions, from four different schools in 30 minutes. On our old program, it was taking 2 to 3 weeks to reconcile across our local schools.”

Integrate with key school systems

With one centralized platform for managing payments, your district can more easily integrate with key school systems that manage other functions of your school operations. Integrating your Student Information Systems simplifies the process of assigning fees to students by group, class, or grade to expedite the process of invoicing for payments. Robust commerce platforms can integrate with existing systems to help facilitate payments within programs that are already in use. MySchoolBucks proudly partners with numerous K-12 software providers to streamline payment collection across all departments.

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Topics: School Lunch, school commerce platform