Thursday, March 11, 2010

Transition To Cash Free Lunch-Line Starts March 10th

We are excited to be moving to a more modern approach with our high school lunch-line next week. Students will still be able to use cash until after April vacation, but we are encouraging parents to take advantage of this new convenience by going to and setting up an account. Parents may also submit checks made out to Burlington School Lunch to put money into their child's account.

Students will use their 6-digit student i.d. number as their code to punch in to pay for lunch. When a student punches in their i.d. number a picture will show on the screen for the cafeteria staff member at the checkout point to confirm the student's i.d


  1. How can i avoid the service charge everytime I make a transaction on the website?

  2. After scanning the PayPAMs website, I'm already disappointed in this service--at least based on its description.

    The primary 'benefit' I expected as a parent was to *quickly* pay for the kids' lunches. The website says that once you make an online payment, it will be "one to two days" before the money shows up in the kids lunch account. The current system system (handing cash to the kids) only requires a few hours lead time. My expectations (based on buying stuff online) is that the money should be credited in seconds. (And just for comparison, it is not unusual for physical goods to be delivered from California to my door about two days after placing the order.) At any rate, I see the requirement to pay two days in advance as a degradation in service, not an improvement.

    The benefit to the school is said to be lower costs and faster checkout in the cafeteria. After checking several of PayPAMs clients, I discovered that many (not all, but many) clients cover the "service fee" out of the cost savings and do not pass the fee on to parents. I have not heard what the arrangement will be in Burlington.

    I assume the expected 'cost savings' come from reduced labor costs. Reducing labor cost means that someone we know in our community loses something--maybe loses a job, loses benefits or has their hours cut. And if we are paying an outside company for the service, then someone outside our community wins. It's an assumption on my part, I know, but it's also a part of the story I'd like to understand better.

    The other thing that bothered me was the PayPAM FAQ. The answer to most of the questions (actually, the answer to _all_ of the questions that I was interested in) was some variation of "that's not our job, call your school." If every detail concerning your kid's lunch account is the school's responsibility, then I'm getting the idea that the PayPAM "service" is pretty limited.

    I apologize for the negative tone of this post. I liked the idea of having an option for handling the school lunch money online. But I don't like the idea of eliminating cash payment totally. Furthermore, this particular implementation strikes me as a step backward, not forward.

  3. I'm more interested in how my child is doing in the classroom rather than the lunchroom.

    I'd like to be able to follow how my child is doing with grades and missed homework. I would like my child to be able to monitor this also--as well as confirm homework assignments and upcoming classroom events.

    The 'cashless cafeteria' extols the benefits of a parent monitoring what their child is eating for lunch...why not give the same attention to something closer to the school's core mission?

  4. My name is Kevin Borbee and my daughter Erin is a freshman at BHS. I dutifully logged on to the Paypams system over the weekend and added $30 to Erin's account which was clearly displayed on the website. Today Erin's card was scanned in the lunchline and the woman at the cash register still asked her for money for lunch. So I figured maybe her $30 balance had not been updated at BHS. But voila I check her balance on Paypams tonight and it is $27.25. So she paid cash for lunch today and also had her paypams account decremented by $2.75. Great automated system that double charges me on the 1st day. So how do I get my $2.75 refunded to me and how is this prevented from happening again. Shouldn't the woman at the register have seen that Erin had $30.00 on her account and therefore not asked for cash payment. Automation is great if it works properly. The cashless lunch doesn't seem to be working properly. Kevin Borbee

  5. Today, the PayPams site says that BHS is not yet accepting online payments, and to contact the school. I called and was put through to the food service manager--the call went to voice mail, but his phone is not taking messages. How do I get this resolved?

  6. The Paypams System is accepting payments and as of this writing we have had 27 students add money to their account. The site does say to allow 1 to 2 days for the money but the people I have talked to have said that it is happening within minutes. The system is incurring some growing pains as we knew it would. Students are not using their ID cards which force the staff to look up each student. This slows the process and creates a wave of students standing at the register causing more confusion. The system will work best when everyone does their part and I am confident in the students and staff working together to make this new program work. There are no service charges to the parents for using the Paypams website and I encourage each family to do so as cash will only be allowed in the school until April vacation. Paul Virgin FSD

  7. We are fighting through the expected "implementation dip" with our new system. I would like to answer a couple of the questions from previous comment:

    The student who was double-charged was given a free lunch today, or to state this more accurately, she was given the lunch she already paid for.

    The service fee will be absorbed by the school district and payments should be credited to the account quickly. According to our Director of Food Services, the money should be in the account within hours if not sooner. In addition students can pay into their account before school in the cafeteria with a check or cash.

    In regards to getting more information about a student's academic progress, we have transitioned to a new student management system which will allow us to communicate student progress in a more modern fashion. In addition, there are a number of teachers who currently have on-line resources for their students including grades and assignments. I too look forward to this number increasing. We will continue to involve teachers in PD opportunities to allow this to happen.

  8. I feel with this program it is more to moniter what student is eating or is in the cafe. I still want to pay for school lunch with cash like we do everyday. There should not be a cut off as to when students can still pay for lunch with cash, it is ridiculous.
    I think you have spent the money in the wrong place, the cafe where you are cutting down on labor costs but paying for this program to monitor what students are eating, we have enough monitoring around the state for example "FAST LANE" I was not expecting it in school. Students should be able to pay for their lunch with CASH. Please take this system away and get your money back and use it towards education for our students.

  9. Is the town actually going to allow the electronic collection of underage student photo's and data? Where's the written permission from parents/guardians? Who approved this? Where and how did you obtain the student photos with this project? What happens if I don't allow my child to participate - is there going to be a cash option?

  10. The cash registers are owned by the school as are the computers that have student photos within the student management system. They are the same photos that are on student ID's. These photos are not given or available to a third party. My understanding is that there will be no cash accepted after April vacation. Please feel free to call me at 781 270-1836 if you have other concerns.

  11. PAMS collects data as stated on it's site! Is the school network connecting to PAMS?

    If checks written to the school are used can the PAMS site be avoided?

    -Thank you