Software to replace school lunch tickets in Onalaska

ONALASKA, Wis. – Here’s a scenario: You’re an Onalaska parent, and you give your high school student, Junior, $2 per day to buy lunch in the a la carte line.

You hope he chooses a balance of nutritious foods, but you have no way of knowing whether he’s blowing the whole $2 to buy cookies every day.

Next year, if you doubt Junior’s dining decisions, you need only phone somebody at the school district’s food service program to get a report of his a la carte purchases, thanks to a new software program approved Monday night by the Onalaska School Board.

The ability to generate such reports is only one advantage for the district, said Sue Black, who runs the food service program.

The Wordware software program, which already is being used in Holmen and West Salem, also will make it easier for the district to collect money and parents to pay money.

With the software, each family will have one account to cover any number of students. Parents deposit money into the account, and the students are each assigned a four-digit code they punch in when they get food at school.

Black said parents can pay for two weeks worth of lunches at a time or a whole semester, depending on their preference.

Parents will be notified, probably by mail at first, when it’s time to put more money into the account. Sometime next year, Black said, she hopes to have an automatic telephone notification system.

The software will mean less work for school personnel collecting the money and passing out lunch tickets, Black said.

Black said problems with students using another student’s code have been rare in other districts, and to make sure it doesn’t happen, Black plans to have a picture appear on the terminal that should match the face of the student who punches in the code.

The software will cost about $18,000, which will be paid for out of a $69,000 surplus in the food service fund. Superintendent John Burnett told the board that money could not be used to help with the district’s budget woes in the general fund.

In all, the food service budget will use $43,000 of that surplus next year, including money for new lunch-related equipment at the high school and Irving Pertzsch Elementary.

The board also approved a nickel per meal increase for next year, except for adult lunch prices.

In other business,

n The board approved a $429,550 capital improvements budget for next year, including $263,000 in spending given immediate approval. The other roughly $166,000 in spending must wait until at least October, at which time enrollment figures will be in and the district will have a better handle on its final budget.

The board approved establishment of an American Sign Language club at the high school next year.

Randy can be reached at (608) 782-9710, Ext. 446, or