Ed Technology

Ed Technology

Ed Technology

Districts taking registration to the 21st century
Online mode saves time and resources
Kentucky School Advocate
July/August 2017
By Matt McCarty
Staff writer
Parents register their children for school at the kindergarten registration event at Christian County Middle School in April. This is the second year that the district has used online registration. Some Kentucky school districts were looking for a better way for parents to register their children for classes. They found the solution with online registration.

Bowling Green Independent, Christian County Schools and Rowan County Schools are among districts that rolled out the system prior to the 2016-17 school year.

“I think it will grow because it’s what our parents want,” said Bowling Green Communications Director Leslie McCoy. “We heard the year before last from our own faculty who were parents, ‘This is too much. There has to be an easier way.’ And when we said we’re looking at online options for completing this, it was a resounding ‘yes.’”
Parents register their children for school at the kindergarten registration
event at Christian County Middle School in April. This is the second year
that the district has used online registration. 

The districts use online registration through Infinite Campus and at a cost of $2 per student. “Our other cost for the initial year was we mailed a letter out to every parent because we wanted them to know since it’s brand new,” said Carolyn Price, Bowling Green’s attendance associate. “It was a massive, massive mailing.”

Now in year two of the program, Price said the district hopes “to start reaping some cost benefits because we are not producing as many enrollment packets. Enrollment packets included so much paper, that’s going to be a cost savings not only in paper but in your employee resources.”

Employee time savings
Christian County High School guidance secretary Barbara McCord said online registration is a lot easier for parents and for the school staff. She said under the old system she would spend months re-entering the information online, calling the electronic system “one of the greatest things our district has done.”

Christian County district officials started thinking about moving to online registration in 2015. Melanie Barrett, Christian County’s pupil personnel director, said her team worked with the district’s technology staff on a plan to move to an online system.

“If you look at everything, you’re saving big dollars by data entry for employees that could be working toward student achievement. That’s what we’re all here for,” Barrett said. “Now we can spend more time focusing on the child instead of working on paperwork.”

This year Christian County added its code of acceptable behavior and discipline forms to the system. Parents will sign the forms online instead of receiving the approximately 70-page printout. Medical forms are also online.
Lindsay Hunt enrolled her children for school using online registration. “It allows you to get done fast,” she said. Less paperwork for parents
Lindsay Hunt, a parent of two children in the Christian County school system, said she “used to dread” registering them for school because of all the paperwork. She said the online system makes the process easier.

“Instead of having all the paperwork, everything is on computers,” Hunt said. “It allows you to get done fast.”

Ali Cross, another Christian County parent, agreed that the new system is a time-saver. “It’s a lot easier, especially not having to spend as much time on filling out paperwork and signing your name constantly,” she said.
Lindsay Hunt enrolled her children for school using online registration.
“It allows you to get done fast,” she said. 

Bowling Green’s Price said parents can also upload documents for online registering.

“We always have to have proof of residency so a parent can take a picture of their utility bill and upload it. So they can do everything from home,” Price said. “They can also do that for their child’s immunizations.”

Carolyn Blair, Rowan County Schools’ pupil personnel director, said everything her district has heard from parents has been positive. “They like being able to go online … and update their student’s records for the upcoming year in just a few minutes rather than a 15-page packet coming home to be completed.”

Blair said the district will continue to offer paper-and-pencil registration for parents who prefer that. “But I think the more that we do this, especially starting with our kindergartners, that it will just become something parents will do. … That’s what they will know. They won’t know a packet coming home at the start of each school year that they’ll need to complete.”

She said the changeover seemed overwhelming at first but as the district got into the process “it’s not as overwhelming as you initially think it will be. I would advise any district to investigate (online registration) and how it will work for them. I think most districts will be very pleased.”

For districts starting out, Blair advises “more training on the front end with all staff, not just attendance clerks and building principals.” Also, she recommends more public relations “on the front end so that parents have a better understanding of the process and the way that it works.”

Katrina Wright, a project clerk for systems support for Christian County Schools, said it’s a learning process.

“It takes some forward thinking to think about how this is going to affect that and how that’s going to affect this. What you want to ask and what kind of questions you want back. So it’s not really a simple process,” she said.

“You have to really think it through,” she added. “Some of the stuff that we had on our online registration last year we’ve changed because we’ve learned OK, maybe that wasn’t the right answer we wanted.”

While it takes effort to get the system going initially, all three districts said they would not want to go back to the old way.

“We would never go back without it,” Price said. “If we tried, I think the school secretaries would … well, it would not be pretty.”
Board View: Online registration will soon be the norm
Christian County Schools is in its second year of using online registration and it has helped it become more efficient, said school board Chairwoman Linda Keller.

“Parents were very excited to be able to go online and fill out some of the repetitive information one time even if they had three children. It saved a lot of time and hassle for them to fill out that monotonous paperwork,” she said. “Teachers and staff are all very excited about it, too. It’s really helped to streamline the process.”

Keller said several districts who are considering online registration have contacted Christian County staff to learn more about it. “I think within the next couple of years it will be the norm instead of filling out paperwork,” she said.

Keller said when the school board was asked to approve money to get online registration started, it was a “very easy” decision.

“Anything that we can do to help our teachers and staff to streamline the process, gets them back to teaching and helping students instead of processing paperwork. We want them to have access and work with the children more than just entering data,” she said.

“It has been a very smart move for the district and it’s good for the parents, but it’s also good for the district.”
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