GARLAND COUNTY, Ark. — Changes made out of necessity by schools during the coronavirus pandemic are now becoming the only way to do things in some districts. In Garland County, multiple districts have switched to exclusively selling tickets online. Others are still taking cash.
At Fountain Lake Schools, cash is king. “I like using cash. I’m old school,” Marsha Rogers said followed by a laugh.
People like her brought Jackson, Lincoln, Washington, and other bills with them for a volleyball game Tuesday night. But down the road, Jessieville School District has bumped, set, and spiked cash to the side.
“With COVID hitting all at once, you’re trying to figure out what’s best for everybody,” described Jamie Saveall, Jessieville School District’s Athletics Director.
Saveall was introduced to GoFan through the Arkansas Athletic Association and began using the system for tournaments and championships years ago. The system limited tickets during capacity restrictions but also reduced lines and streamlined accounting and safety.
“That money was being handled four times, now we have taken all four of those steps out,” Saveall said. ” I’m not carrying around thousands of dollars in a money box going to put it in a safe and having to look around to see who may be coming trying to take it.”
Now everything operates off your phone and an iPad with the ability to read credit cards. Many parents, like Danielle Fournier, prefer it that way.
“Because sometimes I have cash and sometimes I don’t, and honestly I do a digital world with Apple Pay and everything else. It’s much easier,” Fournier expressed.
But what’s convenient for some isn’t for everyone. Betty Jo Cochran prefers paying with cash.
She said, “We’ve been places where they couldn’t get a ticket because they didn’t have a cell phone, so they can’t get into an event.”
That’s why Fountain Lake will keep counting coins now so that no one is left out. Superintendent Michael Murphy said there is a lot Fountain Lake considered when choosing to accept multiple payment options.
“It’s how a community accepts it, how you promote it I think is the biggest thing, and how you manage the overall cost,” he said.
While some districts are swallowing the one-dollar convenience fee to keep the price even, others are passing it to the customer. So for every digital ticket Fountain Lake sells, 20% goes to the app.
Despite the downsides, Saveall said, “Once we got it set up, once we got the kinks out, I felt like this was the easiest thing that we could do, and there was no looking back.”
Overall, people seem to be in favor of more options, not less, including Fournier who prefers not to carry cash.
“Some people are not comfortable with the digital world,” Fournier said. Plus, we play small schools in the middle of nowhere sometimes, including our own, so the Wi-Fi is not the best to be a full digital option.”