It appears that soon parents will have to pay a fee to use a credit card or debit card to make payments to Riverside-Brookfield High School.

The District 208 school board appears poised to approve a small convenience fee on credit card and debit card transactions as soon as this summer. 

Last year the district paid $17,400 in credit card processing fees on credit card revenue of $519,000. The district is paying an average credit card processing fee of 3.49 percent and would like to recoup at least some of that cost.

At the Feb. 14 school board meeting, RBHS Business Manager Scott Beranek submitted a proposal to add a credit card processing fee of 3.49 percent to bills to recoup the credit card processing fees the district pays.

However Superintendent Kevin Skinkis suggested that a small, flat convenience fee on credit card transactions would be easier to implement.

The board will likely consider such a proposal at a subsequent meeting.

The administration would like to have a convenience fee in place in time for registration for summer school and summer athletic camps.

Recently, RBHS has allowed parents to pay registration fees online and wants to further encourage online payments.

“We’re a pretty high collection rate now that we allow people to pay online,” Skinkis said. “We want to get to point where parents can pay for anything online. I think our fee collections have improved since we’ve added the convenience of paying online.”

Beranek surveyed seven other school districts to see how they handle credit card transactions, and he reported that only one of those districts charged a convenience fee.

Auditing firm retained

Also at the Feb. 14 meeting, the District 208 school board renewed its contract with its auditing firm for another three years. The board voted unanimously to rehire the firm of Evans, Marshall & Pease to conduct the required annual audits of the school district. The firm has audited the district’s books for the past six years.  

The board will pay Evans, Marshall and Pease $55,875 over the next three years. 

The firm was not the low bidder for the auditing contract. Its bid was the third lowest bid among the six firms that responded to the district’s request for bids and $2,360 higher than the low bidder. 

But district officials say they’ve been very satisfied with the work of Evans, Marshall and Pease and saw no reason to change firms for such a small savings. Governments in Illinois are not required to accept the low bid for professional services and are not even required to put professional service contracts out for bid.

Some consider it good practice to change auditing firms periodically to get a fresh set of eyes on the books and to ensure that auditors don’t get too cozy with employees of the organization they are auditing.

But board members told the Landmark that with three members of the District 208 board having strong accounting backgrounds — President Mike Welch, Tim Walsh and Garry Gryczan — they were not concerned about having the same auditing firm for nine years. 

Walsh, especially, is known for closely examining bill lists and questioning payments.