Principals Today #125

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Working Space | School Finances

User-friendly finances

From ice cream containers to streamlined parent payments Things have changed at Wellington’s Island Bay primary school. Executive officer, Theresa Meredith has thrown away her spreadsheets capturing student activities and associated payments and can follow up on permissions and amounts owing in less than 20 seconds. Going back six years, the school took payments in cash or cheques handed to teachers or by eftpos at the office. All communication around trips and activities was sent out via notices — with parents duly returning their permission forms and payments to class. “Cash was collected in ice cream containers,” Theresa says. “One container per activity. It was very challenging to reconcile because permission was often given without payment. Teachers used to arrive in the office at the end of term or year with a bag of cash, unsure what it was for.”

“The efficiency of money handling and real-time reporting with Kindo is excellent. We pull in more money than we used to, and our parents have the flexibility to pay when and how they prefer, in the amounts that suit them.” - Deborah Fenton, Principal, Island Bay School

At the time, the school’s focus was on collecting permissions, so payment records were hit or miss. Theresa was keen to do things a little differently, so the school adopted the WrapitUp school payments system in 2016, which transferred to Kindo when the businesses merged in 2017. In 2019, Kindo introduced a raft of new features called Kindo Payables, allowing the school to continue taking money up front via the ‘shop’ while adding the ability to handle invoicetype payables. “The new features definitely deliver the outcomes we wanted,” she says.

Te Ra Waldorf School, Paraparaumu, Wellington Te Ra is a state-integrated special character school with 193 students on the primary school roll and 60 students in kindergarten classes and the on-site nursery. When executive officer, Rhonda Huntley started in November 2018, one of her first challenges was to create some visibility across payments owing. Gaining a clear view across payables was particularly complex with parent payments directed into two separate bank accounts for the school and the Proprietors Trust. “Before Kindo, around three to four hours of admin time was tied up each week sorting out mixed up payments,” Rhonda says. “We needed a system that could deliver payments seamlessly to the right bank account, integrate with other systems, and provide us with clear reporting. “With Kindo, we’ve had 100 percent of our swimming bill paid before the due date and camp was fully paid before the students set off. We are very happy with the way the system’s running. “Reporting is now accurate and up-to-date. The school is taking less cash through the office and payments are coming in on a regular basis.”

“We can easily load specific activities against classes, groups or individuals. And then, at the click of a button, alert parents via email when there’s a new activity to be paid. Payables also provides complete visibility across payments and non-payments.” According to Theresa, Kindo point of sale feature (POS) is a significant gain for schools, providing the ability to incorporate all forms of payments into one system. Kindo can handle payments made using other payment methods (eftpos, cash and online banking) and provide a full record of payments for every student. “Prior to Payables and POS being developed, we could only see what had been paid, not what was outstanding,” confirmed Theresa. “I used to run several spreadsheets, one for each activity, to capture all the different payments. This was time-consuming and moving data around introduced human error. Now most payments come through Kindo and we log those that don’t using POS.” Parents are less confused over what they should pay and whether they’ve paid it and Theresa has no problem with last minute opt-ins or opt-outs from sports teams, activities or even fundraisers. “I can add or remove a

20 | Term 1, 2020

Island Bay primary school executive officer Theresa Meredith.

Island Bay School principal Deborah Fenton.

payable against an individual student immediately, so parents can keep upto-date with the payments that apply to them.”

Payment prompts to announce new payables can be sent out to groups, classes or the whole school at the click of a mouse. If an unregistered parent receives a prompt, they are automatically directed to Kindo to register. This has resulted in the registration of 425 of the 442 Island Bay students. Theresa can send out payment reminders in seconds and the response from parents is often instantaneous.

Even better, parents can part-pay donations, camps and trips with Kindo displaying the updated balance for payment. “We’ve stopped getting double ups and payments for activities that students aren’t participating in. Parents are better informed as a result. As soon as they log in to Kindo, their balance is displayed by each child, broken down line by line. It couldn’t be clearer.” From an admin perspective, the new functionality solves issues in seconds that used to take hours each day to navigate. For activities like sport sign ups, trips and camps, admin staff can easily attach a permission form to each payment, so parents can’t pay without agreeing to their child’s involvement. That means a lot less time spent chasing permissions. There’s also been a noticeable upturn in school payments which Theresa attributes to the link embedded in prompts and reminder emails taking parents directly to their Kindo accounts, making it simple to pay via smart phone.

“We recently sent a payment prompt for 89 children,” Rhonda says. “Seventyseven paid online through Kindo. The remainder were new entrants or receiving payment support — that’s a great result.” Kindo has also simplified teacher and board-level reporting. Theresa can run off up-to-date reports for teachers in seconds – that means no more ice cream containers in the classroom. “Reporting is instant and accurate, payments are coming in smoothly, teachers can focus on teaching and administration is streamlined. I know it works because parents constantly check their accounts and are much more aware of their children’s activities and payments owing. Kindo Payables has been a real win for us.”