School Food Service Reimbursement System
By Walter Beesley
Using the Internet to save time and money for Maines 300+ school districts and
the Department of Education.
The School Food Service Reimbursement System (SFSR) was created for local school
districts to submit monthly data for reimbursement via the Internet. The system collects
financial data, meal counts, and other information by school. It is then rolled into a
district claim form. The legal agent approves the information for payment by the
Department of Education. Thereafter, the information is forwarded to the Bureau of
Accounts and Control, through automation, for check payment to the districts.
All school districts were required to submit using this method as of July 1st
1999, and today, 100% of school districts are on-line. This system eliminates reports that
were mailed from the Department, and data mailed to the Department for keypunching, under
the old system. Reports are now displayed on the Web pages for school officials, auditors,
and the interested public; and the data is entered directly into databases. The data is
now in a format that allows Maine Department of Education staff to sort data and create
reports as needed. Nanci Kittredge and Walter Beesley manage this program, and Nanci
administers over 700 user IDs and passwords
The new claim form submittal process got off to a great start. The first month was a
new experience for many. Initial unfamiliarity did create some stress among food service
staff. To address this, the September claims deadline was extended because of the holiday,
and to provide as much help as possible. Some school districts had to rethink their
Internet connection to allow food service staff to access this system.
The September claims and application were all due the first of October, the normal
deadline being the eighth. The time frame of October 1st to the 9th
revealed 1,669 users logged on to the system to submit data. The highest user day was the
8th with 370 users, which represented 22% of the total during this time frame.
Many users discovered the flexibility of the program by using it after hours. Five users
even logged on during the weekend.
Octobers claim forms went much more smoothly for all. During November 1st
to November 9th 1,483 users logged on. The decrease in numbers from September
indicates users had to log on fewer times to correct input errors.
Food service staff is really getting into using this system! They are involved in the
testing of changes and some are offering excellent suggestions to further improve SFSR.
Step by step instructions have also been developed. The instructions include how to enter
data, revise information, receive approvals, and change passwords.
The After School Snack Program was added 12/2/1999 to the production module along with
some administrative changes. The program will also collect school enrollment statistics by
the end of December, which will eliminate another piece of paper (EFN-70) going back and
forth between the Department and the districts via the U.S. mail.
As for saving money, the postal savings for school districts and the Department
approximate $2,000 over the 10 months of the school year. Because the SFSR does the
computations, math errors (and the long distance telephone calls necessary to correct
them) have been essentially eliminated. There are also savings in the cost of paper,
envelopes, photocopies, and printing for local and state offices.
The greatest savings to the taxpayers, however is the elimination of the
keypunchers labor. SFSR replaces a system that required the labor of two people or
about 100 hours each of the 10 months during the school year. This is an estimated cost
saving of $10,000 per year. Other costs avoided will be cost of the several paper reports
filed and mailed each year.
In addition to saving money, we have been receiving positive comments from food service
directors. These include "
I think the new filing method is working well. It is
much easier and takes less time. Nanci is wonderful support.", "This is
great!", and "I love it!" Happy customers, less expensive, publicly
accessible, and the ability to sort the data as needed
we at the Department like
the new system too!
The public can view SFSR information at http://www.maine.gov/education/sfsr1.htm.
Walter Beesley is a consultant in the Food Service Division of the Department of
Educations Support team. Walter has worked in this field for13 years, and may be
reached with questions/comments by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.