Maybe you want to know your child’s English grade or if she was late for class, or maybe just what she’s getting for lunch.
Whether it’s through a mobile phone app or other online services, Tri-City school districts want to help parents know more about what’s happening in their schools.
The Pasco School District is the latest to offer a mobile app. Richland School District launched its app two years ago. And Kennewick steers parents toward a different online service.
Parents, as well as students, can download the apps for free on their iOS or Android mobile devices.
Pasco’s mobile app, which follows a merger with Blackboard and the web provider, Schoolwires, is now live after teams condensed a four-month app build into six weeks.
The district wanted to make sure it was ready for the school year, said Leslee Caul, director of public affairs at the Pasco School District.
“We’re excited,” Caul said. “I think this is going to be really helpful for Pasco families.”
The new app takes services that Pasco schools already use for lunch money balances, grades and transportation information and puts them in a single location on the app, Caul said.
We’re excited. I think this is going to be really helpful for Pasco families.
Leslee Caul, Pasco School District
“It’s not creating any extra work or new work,” she said. “Teachers already input this data, and parents can get it through Parent Portal.”
The district went with the Blackboard-based interface because of the variety of options available within the app.
“Other ones didn’t offer the substance that they needed to be an effective communication tool for our families,” Caul said.
The Richland School District app, which launched in 2014, is powered through SchoolMessenger from West.
Richland’s mobile app also lets parents access PowerSchool, another records keeping software program that helps parents track grades and other district notifications.
The app itself also has a list of schools, maps, lunch menus and online payment management.
It gives parents another way of staying in contact with the school and the school district. Our teachers use PowerSchool to post how kids are doing on their homework, test scores, that kind of thing.
Steve Aagaard, Richland School District
“With so many communications going to mobile devices now, the district thought this would be one more way to communicate with parents and students for that matter,” said Steve Aagaard, Richland School District communications director. “It’s an easy way for people to be in contact with the district and do it on their mobile device.”
The Richland School District wanted to pursue the project since mobile technology continued to grow, which presented an opportunity for parents to have more ways to connect with the district, Aagaard said.
“It gives parents another way of staying in contact with the school and the school district,” he said. “Our teachers use PowerSchool to post how kids are doing on their homework, test scores, that kind of thing.”
The Kennewick School District has no current plans to roll out a mobile app, but that could change later, said Robyn Chastain, director of communication for the Kennewick School District.
“It’s not going to work with every parent,” she said. “We wanted to look for a solution where everyone could get information in one place.”
We’re still realizing the full capabilities of the messenger system, but we’re receiving great feedback from parents. We’re finding that parents want to really know what’s going on in our children’s schools.
Robyn Chastain, Kennewick School District
For Kennewick, PowerSchool has worked well as a primary information source for parents, Chastain said.
“We’re still realizing the full capabilities of the messenger system, but we’re receiving great feedback from parents,” she said. “We’re finding that parents want to really know what’s going on in our children’s schools.”
Parents who want to sign up for notifications in Kennewick can also go to bit.ly/KSDsignup.
More information on the Pasco School District and Richland School District mobile apps can be found in the iTunes store for iPhone users or the Google Play Store for Android phone users.