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Student meal payment service down
System unavailable for at least a week, maybe longer

COVINGTON - Newton County School System parents who use Meal Pay Plus to pay their students' meal accounts will be unable to use the service for at least a week and perhaps longer.

"Meal Pay is currently unavailable to students and staff due to a change in credit card processors," according to an NCSS administrative services report by Deborah Robertson, associate superintendent for administration.

In December, the school system's software provider, Horizon, purchased Meal Pay. Horizon changed Meal Pay's management from EPOS to Retriever.

The school system's agreement with EPOS ended Dec. 31, and the school system does not yet have a new agreement signed with the management that handles Meal Pay, Robertson said.

"It requires a new agreement" for the school system to use the service, she said.

The school board attorney is reviewing the agreement and will have a recommendation for the board to vote on at the board's next meeting, which is Tuesday.

Robertson said if the board approves the agreement Tuesday, it could take 48 to 72 hours for Meal Pay to be available again.

"While the service is unavailable, you may send cash or checks to the cafeteria at your child's school," according to a letter sent home to parents on Tuesday. "If your child is in elementary school, please put the check or cash in an envelope with the word "meals' and the student's name and homeroom teacher on the outside. ... The manager at each elementary school will send home a weekly low balance letter for your student(s)."

Cashiers will remind middle and high school students to bring money when their balance goes below $2 if they are prepaying their meal account, the letter reads.

Parents are encouraged to call the school nutrition program manager at their children's school to get an account balance update or any other information regarding paying for meals.

In November, NCSS Meal Pay collections totaled $17,837, with 801 individuals making use of the system. In 2007, excluding the month of December, collections totaled $71,000 with 1,568 users.

"We hate that it is down, because it is a popular means for parents," Robertson said. "We hope to get this resolved quickly."

More information about Meal Pay can be found at www.mealpayplus.com or by calling 866-900-5385. To register for the system, parents or guardians will need their students' five-digit student ID.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.