Sunday, June 26, 2016

Back-to-school registration to go electronic

Sending children back to the classroom after summer break is about to get a lot easier for parents in Crittenden County.

Starting this fall, back-to-school registration for students will go electronic across the entire school district, streamlining the process for parents and schools. Online registration will eliminate the usual stack of paperwork that can keep a parent busy for an entire evening filling out separate forms with some of the same basic data like names and contact information.

“It’s one of the biggest complaints we get at the start of each year,” said Superintendent of Schools Vince Clark. “I felt the same way when I registered my children. Even then, I thought, there’s got to be a better way to do this.”

The decision to move to e-registration was made by Crittenden County Board of Education at a special meeting earlier this month. It will cost the district $1,900 initially and about $1,200 annually thereafter. That expense will be more than covered by the time saved by staff who have had to input data electronically from thousands of paper forms.

“It takes so much time, and a lot of times, it’s the same information year in and year out,” said Clark. “This will eliminate some of this repetitive work we do at the start of each year. And I think parents will really appreciate this. This is going to be a win-win.”

The new registration system will be a part of the Infinite Campus, an online portal that already allows parents to track their children’s grades, attendance and various other aspects of their education. Once a student’s basic information is entered, it will be carried over each year during the entire course of their education, requiring only updates at the start of each year.

“This really will make life simpler,” said Diana Lusby, who as personnel director for the district researched the move to online registration along with Director of Pupil Personnel Al Starnes. “And if they have several kids, it’s all tied in together.”

The e-registration will include various permissions and agreements, medical records, etc.

Clark said for families who may not have reliable internet access at home or guardians such as grandparents who may not be familiar with navigating Infinite Campus online, help will be available. Plans are for workstations to be set up at each school for guardians to complete the e-registration with hands-on assistance provided by staff. Crittenden County Public Library, too, plans to offer the same guidance at any of its 10 public workstations.

“As a last resort, we could still allow parents to manually fill out the information,” Clark added.

The superintendent said  any concerns over possible data breaches with the new system are not any greater than in the past, as information is already stored electronically after being input from hard copies. The school district will also be the final gatekeeper of the information, allowing staff to verify any suspicious changes to a student’s information on file.