With the tag line “We Power School Business,” Plumas Unified School District hopes that its new software provider, Escape, will revolutionize the way it operates.
During the school board’s Aug. 1 meeting, Assistant Superintendent Yvonne Bales, who is also the director of business, gave the board members an overview of the new system.
Bales touted the software’s relatively low cost, its ability to interface with state systems, its capabilities and ongoing technical support as key reasons for the selection.
Bales said that as of the end of June, the software company had devoted hundreds of hours to making the system operational for the district.
It will be used in all areas of finance including purchasing, budgeting and accounts payable, as well as in human resources and payroll.
Bales showed the school board current check registers and checks and compared them to the new documents available with Escape. Not only are they easier to read, but they contain more information.
The system will help human resources track employee demographics and ease federal reporting requirements. She said the system would have the ability to track such elements as credentials, seniority, evaluations and professional growth.
Finally there is payroll. “It’s the most complex part of the process,” Bales said, adding that roughly 75 percent of the time has been devoted to developing that aspect.
Bales admitted that payroll isn’t fully implemented the way she had hoped, but it would be soon. She showed the school board members huge binders for records that are generated from each payroll, and said that will become a part of the past.
“These will no longer be printed,” she said. “We are working on a paperless environment.”
Bales said that implementing the new system was “quite a team undertaking” and credited Laurie Pendray for working with her to make it possible, along with representatives from various departments.
“This was a real effort by a lot of different people,” she said.
Bales tried to present the school board with a look at school financing for the next several years, but said it was ever changing.
“Next July we will know for sure what funding levels are,” she said. “It changes every day. We receive new information.”
She added that she had changed her presentation three times during the past week as new information became available.
Her latest calculations show that the school district will be deficit spending $1.15 million in the next fiscal year.
In the cafeteria
Food Services Program Manager Jessica Linford, who has run the schools’ cafeterias for the past year, gave the board a brief update.
Linford spearheaded an effort to return cooking to the school sites, rather than from a central location. Additionally she placed an emphasis on adding fruits, vegetables and whole grains to the menu, and cutting sugar. The change has actually cut food costs while providing students with healthier meals.
“Scratch cooking is a dime less per meal,” Linford said. The new approach is less costly than buying processed foods.
“This has been a huge change for the better,” school board member Leslie Edlund said.
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