SAMOHI — In a recent e-mail thread between parents whose kids attend Santa Monica High School, many voiced concern and confusion about a 4 percent convenience fee that was charged when making donations or purchasing school supplies.
Other parents wondered what families who couldn’t pay the fee would do.
One parent wrote in an e-mail with his two daughters and gifts to the PTA, the Education Foundation and Grad Night, he is paying $75 in fees which will not go to the school or PTA.
“This needs to be addressed in future years,” he wrote in the e-mail. “Infosnap is making out on this deal and we are already paying them a lot.”
Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District officials said they are in transition as they try to find another contractor to handle the online registration for next year and are aware of the parents’ concerns.
The district has a two-year contract with infosnap, Inc., a provider of online admission and registration solutions designed specifically for schools.
Terry Deloria, assistant superintendent of Educational Services, said next year the district will use a different company that has better financial software once the contract is up. She said infosnap handled the paperwork part of the registration process.
“(infosnap) wasn’t designed to do the store part. They’re not financial software in any way,” Deloria said.
She said if parents don’t want to pay online, they can bring cash, a cashier’s check or money order to the school.
Parents can go online to update all of their emergency and contact information, which used to be done by paper and pencil, as well as purchase yearbooks or physical education clothes for their kids, Deloria said.
Superintendent Sandra Lyon said the goal of the tool is to make it easier for parents to register and pay their fees. She said the 4 percent charge goes to infosnap.
“The goal is to have all of our schools registered online,” Lyon said.
In the e-mail thread, some parents questioned the fee when making donations online as well.
Lisa Balfus, president of the PTSA at Samohi, said if parents do not want to pay the processing fee they can donate directly through the PTSA website or donate directly through the Campaign for Student Success. She said the PTSA will also accept checks anytime during the year and on the day of registration.
Balfus said she recognized the district shouldn’t be giving money to infosnap that otherwise could be given to the school. She said the alternative for more than 3,000 kids is district officials coding and entering data for hours during the summer when they should be getting the school ready for the new year.
“It’s a two-year contract, nobody particularly is thrilled with the company,” Balfus said.