What’s he eating for lunch? Is she showing up for class? What subjects are they weak in? Software is helping unravel the mystery, reports the Los Angeles Times. It’s tough sending the kids back to school–but technology is helping eliminate some of the guesswork about what happens after kids climb onto the bus. Increasingly common web programs let parents track lunch-money spending, school work habits, and tardiness. The programs, from companies such as Pearson School Systems, Aries Technology, and Horizon Software International, are gaining popularity as more parents demand transparency in schools. This year, the Los Angeles Unified School District signed a $9.9-million contract with Horizon, a Duluth, Ga., company that offers a program called MealpayPlus to let parents see what their children are eating for lunch. "If parents don’t understand how their student goes through $30 in 3 days, they can view their student’s current account balance," said Ashley Steele, senior product coordinator for MealpayPlus. Other programs, such as Pearson’s PowerSchool, apply a similar idea to grading and attendance. Critics say some programs give parents too much control. But Brent Bingham, vice president of product marketing at Pearson School Systems, said the programs let parents nip problems in the bud…

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