BCLUW starts new online payment for lunches

BCLUW Superintendent Ben Petty seems to devour technology and pass the knowledge along to the school community.

The latest idea from Petty is getting the BCLUW School District started on Dwolla, an online pay program that is now used to help parents pay for lunches for their students.

Dwolla started in Iowa and even has the financial backing of actor Ashton Kutcher.

“I’ve always been interested in some of the technology start-ups and entrepreneurs in Iowa,” Petty said. “I thought if we can get a secure site set up that would make things easier for the school and the parents that we would look into it.”

Petty made some contacts with Dwolla staff in Des Moines at a conference at the partnership started from there. BCLUW is the first public school district in the state to be utilizing this Dwolla system, which allows users to transfer money from their bank account to the school on their computer or smart phone.

Petty said this option can help parents stay on top of the lunch accounts of their children.

“Sometimes it’s easy to forget to send checks or cash along,” Petty said.

The Dwolla program has been in place for a few weeks, and BCLUW has approximately 12 parents enrolled.

This program also saves the school money. Petty said online payment systems using credit cards would charge the school 3 to 4 percent in administrative costs. Dwolla charges the school district less than 1 percent for these transactions.

Currently, it’s just being used to help parents fund school lunch accounts, but Petty said they may expand the program in the future so parents can pay other bills such as registration and book fees.

Petty feels these types of online payment programs are the future.

“I like the simplicity of using Dwolla and think low-cost online payment systems like this will become pretty common, for payments to both schools as well as other merchants and small businesses, as we move through the 21st century,” Petty said.