Local school districts are using new avenues to increase communication with parents.
Last month, the Northville Junior/Senior High School web-based parent portal was activated.
The online system allows parents, guardians and students to access a variety of information, including grades, assignments and attendance.
This screenshot shows the website for the Parent?Today e-newsletter at http://parenttoday.org/.
Michael Healey, Northville Junior/Senior High School principal, said a big advantage to using the system is it allows parents and students the opportunity to work together to be successful. Parents can stay up to date on their child's progress, and not wait until a report card arrives.
Healey pointed out some students tell their parents little about their school work, other than telling them it's finished. Now, parents can check for themselves to see if that has been the case.
"Hopefully, we can stop any problems before they become a bigger issue," he said.
While the district figures to save $750 to $1,000 a year by using the system, Healey said, the biggest asset is that it offers parents an easier way to stay readily involved in their child's education.
"I've heard nothing but good things so far [about the Parent Portal]" he said.
Healey said the system Northville is using is similar to one being used in the Mayfield school district.
Mayfield Junior/Senior High School Principal Rob Husain said while the impetus for using their parent portal came about last year as a way to cut costs, the system offers a number of benefits that are worthwhile on their own.
For example, he said, checking a student's attendance can be very helpful for parents of students who can drive.
Ultimately, he said, the ease of communication the system provides - with information being regularly updated - means it could be utilized by even younger students.
"It is a way to remove a barrier between [parents and teachers] to improve communication," Husain said.
Husain said parents should remember there can be a delay between when a grade is given and when it is updated.
"We are in the early stages still," he said. "With grades, we are trying to make sure people understand how this works."
The Mayfield school district also is giving residents a new option for receiving news about the district. The School News Notifier, a free opt-in emai- alert system, allows people to choose the news from the district they want delivered to their e-mail inboxes.
Subscribers can choose to receive news from either or both the district's two schools, as well as school closing alerts, guidance office news, special education news and athletic news,
Residents who would like to receive text-message alerts about school closings and delays may enter a cellphone number and indicate their cellular carrier.
"It's one less obstacle to communicating with parents," Husain said.
Husain said such systems are a step toward what will ultimately become virtually paperless classrooms. Teachers will be able to use equipment to store their notes for students, who will have constant access to the information and assignments they are supposed to be working on - along with their parents.
Of course, both school districts offer the traditional paper reports to those who request them.
Patrick Michel, superintendent at Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational services, said he is familiar with Parent?Portal from school districts downstate using it. He said more school districts in the area will probably start using similar systems as parents find out they can get more real-time information.
"[Educators] can have constant communication with parents," he said.
For more information about the Northville parent portal, visit northvillecsd.org/. The Mayfield parent portal can be seen at esd-parentportal.neric.org/Login.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fdefault.aspx.
The Broadalbin-Perth Central School District is encouraging parents to sign up for Parent Today, a bi-monthly e-newsletter that provides tools and information to encourage parents to be even more engaged in their child's education. The opt-in email newsletter is delivered to subscribers' inboxes.
"Research shows that engaged parents have a positive effect on their children's school success - meaning better attendance, better attitudes toward school and homework, better grades and higher expectations for the future," Superintendent of Schools Stephen Tomlinson said in a news release on the school district website. "Parent Today allows us to foster stronger connections between families and our schools and encourage parents to be even more involved in the education of their children."
For more information, visit the Broadalbin-Perth school district website at www.bpcsd.org