Keeping Parents in the School Activities Loop

By W. Wesley Watts Jr., Ed.D, Chief Information Technology Officer, Prince George's County Public Schools

W. Wesley Watts Jr., Ed.D, Chief Information Technology Officer, Prince George's County Public Schools

Ah yes! We are living in a digital world with technologies emerging daily to keep parents informed about their child’s progress in school. School systems across the country work hard to provide a variety of ways to communicate to parent sand notify them when necessary. Prince George’s County Public Schools(PGCPS) use a variety of tools such as web sites, learning management systems, student information systems, robo-call systems, and other applications to inform, remind, and alert parents of important “events.”

As a new member of a community, parents need assistance registering their child for school. PGCPS has web sites and applications designed to assist parents in finding their neighborhood schools or applying for a specialty school. Once these decisions are finalized, parents can utilize online applications designed to determine the closest bus stop to their residence and pick up and drop off times. PGCPS implemented a mobile app last year that will track the school bus and show the parent and/or student the school bus location.

"School systems across the country work hard to provide a variety of ways to communicate to parents and notify them when necessary"

Next, parents will want to apply for free and reduced lunch meals or set up an account to pay for school lunch. PGCPS has provided parents the ability to apply for free and reduced meals online and has systems in place for parents to go online and add money to an account to pay for their child’s lunch. These systems can also collect fees for other services as well, such as, before and after care, athletic and technology fees, field trips, credit recovery courses, summer school, and finger printing.

As school starts, parents will want to be informed of any district wide and school news so PGCPS has set up services to allow parents to receive notifications of school closings and other events. This is beside the school district’s social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and TV96, PGCPS’s local cable channel. PGCPS also has district and individual school calendars online to see specific events throughout the school year that can be downloaded to a personal calendar, i.e. Google or Outlook, etc.

Parents will also want to see their child’s school performance as the school year progresses. PGCPS has a student information system that can provide information such as student schedule, unofficial transcript, attendance, grades, discipline, quarterly report cards, and other personal information. Although learning management systems tend to overlap some of this information, it also provides an insight to the work that is going on in each class.You can potentially see the assignments, content, and an online forum for each of your child’s classes.

Overwhelmed? Well, in addition to all of the above, PGCPS also has applications to allow parents to submit a bullying concern, apply for the specialty school lottery, submit a transfer request to attend another school, or sign up for a class to better supporting their children. These services are designed to help parents save time, keep them informed, and alert them when necessary. Most of these applications can be accessed by using your  smartphone.

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