If you head into the cafeterias at lunchtime in North Branford schools, you can see students paying for lunch with lunch tickets, cash or even checks. North Branford is hoping for a new look soon as the district is looking into a program called Powerlunch, which would convert paying for lunches to a debit system.
North Branford schools use a program called Powerschool, which is a student database complete with student records. Powerlunch is incorporated into the software but has yet to be used.
Kimberly Neubig, the supervisor of fiscal and support services for North Branford Public Schools, has been researching the option and sees many positives.
“I’m interested in technology and bringing the district to the future,” Neubig said. “We’re looking at ways of streamlining things.”
Powerlunch centralizes the payment system for school lunches and there are several possibilities as far as how the debits would happen, though they would all be based on students’ student ID number. If the system is implemented, whether the students would swipe or scan their ID cards or simply give the cashier their student ID number is yet to be determined.
“I think it would be easier on everybody and be more efficient,” said Neubig. “The system tracks revenue and can be imported into our accounting software.”
Representatives from North Branford Public Schools saw the system at work firsthand when they visited Coginchaug High School, which uses the Powerlunch system. The representatives were shown the management side of the system, including revenue tracking and daily reports, before witnessing the lunch wave where students used their student ID cards to purchase lunches.
“It was very efficient and I think the students liked it, too,” said Neubig. “Right now, we’re in the homework stage, gathering the information and we’ll present that.”
With the program, parents would be able to log on to district website and add funds to their student’s account, eliminating the need to remember lunch money and carry cash or checks. While the accounts can be funded online, it can also be done in the cafeteria where the cafeteria manager can load the card after a cash or check payment.
Neubig said that ’s new construction and cafeteria would make it the ideal school to test the program in because of the data drops and power outlets available. Because it would be a matter of activating the software the school already has, Neubig said the costs would be minimal.
“Our IT department is researching the cost of equipment–computer terminals and a handheld scanner or card slider,” said Neubig. “Once all the details come together, we’ll make a final decision. If we decide to move ahead, it should move ahead pretty rapidly.”