Collection Agency Pursuing School Lunch Fines Provides Introspective Moment

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For a seemingly small piece that’s short on info, there’s a lot to unpack in this story running in The Standard Speaker.

We don't run from stereotypes

The Hazelton, Pa.-area school district currently has about $3,000 in unpaid lunch fees. To recoup this money, the Hazelton school board is testing the waters with several collection agencies.

This is one of those situations where reality – there are few school districts that can afford not to pursue three grand – brushes up uncomfortably against perceived reality: collection agencies are going after kids for their lunch money. Regardless of how much we may want to shift the conversation, this one is ripe for shifting back by those who only have negative things to say about the accounts receivable management industry.

Most of the agencies chomping at the bit for this account are suggesting a 70/30 profit split, with the school district taking the bulk of the collected monies home. The current debt of $3,000 seems like a small amount – and any agency’s cut will only run somewhere in the $900 range. However, it’s likely that this is a slow-and-steady sort of arrangement, where a firm that successfully wins this collections bid would have a guaranteed account.

Adding a different spin to this program is what amounts to a bit of case management required by any collection agency selected for this proposal. Hazelton’s school board is hoping that the collection agency will be able to identify those families who should be receiving free or reduced-price lunches, and funneling those accounts to the appropriate authority.

It’s a tightrope walk, though; collection agencies and kids can be a PR nightmare if things aren’t handled entirely  appropriately. However this could also be another example of the ARM industry working with communities to strengthen them.

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