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District offers new mobile app

December 10, 2013
By LEVI PASCHER , The Leader Herald

BROADALBIN - Community members of the Broadalbin-Perth school district are now able to inquire about what is for lunch, read school news and find important dates or telephone numbers on the new district mobile app.

The app is available for free on Apple and Android mobile devices.

According to a news release, the application is powered by ParentLink, which is a provider of branded school and district apps. Broadalbin-Perth's app provides tools and information to community members on mobile devices.

"Smartphones and tablets are everywhere. In our schools, we're using them with children as young as 5. Many adults can't imagine their lives without them. So, it was important for us as a district to change with the times and start providing information to people where they can easily access it: their mobile devices," said Superintendent Stephen Tomlinson.

District communications specialist Michele Kelley said the district decided to move forward with the mobile initiative in the fall when it spent about $11,000 on the start-up cost of the project with ParentLink, but the app didn't become available to the public until last month.

Kelley said her and Tomlinson spoke about the idea several times after she went to a conference where there was a lot of conversation about school district apps. She said since the program is being ran through a BOCES contract, the district receives 74 percent aid on the investment.

She said the yearly fee will be about $8,000, and as long as the district remains with BOCES, it will continue to receive the 74 percent aid yearly.

"It's actually costing very little, and that cost also includes a text-messaging, email and robo call system," Kelley said. "We currently use different providers for text, email and phone messaging, so we are going to be switching over to ParentLink, which will save the district more money once that move is complete."

The home page of the app features a rotating gallery of "top stories," populated from the district's website, www.bpcsd.org, and Facebook page, the release said.

App users can also access all recent news stories by tapping the "News" icon. The calendar feature includes upcoming events from all four schools, the district and the B-P athletics program, and the directory allows users to email or call Broadalbin-Perth schools or individual members of the faculty and staff directly from their mobile devices.

Users can choose to receive push notifications from the district as well, including event reminders and notices about school closings and delays. A tip line gives users the opportunity to provide feedback to district personnel on a variety of topics, including celebrations, suggestions for improvement, transportation or custodial and maintenance issues, and bullying.

According to the release, app users can also use the tip line to submit questions or comments to Patriot Plain Talk, patriotplaintalk.blogspot.com. Users can submit their tips anonymously, or include their name, email address and phone number to allow district staff to follow up on the tips.

The app also features shortcuts to the district's Facebook and Twitter pages, athletics website, YouTube channel, e-Backpack and Patriot Plain Talk features, as well as faculty and staff resources and Board of Education meeting and policy documents.

Kelley said in the future the app will have more functionality which includes allowing parents to see their students grades, homework assignments, missed assignments and alerts if their child's grade drops below a certain level in any subject."This is just the very beginning," Kelley said.

"Our district is committed to providing members of our school community with the tools they need to help our students succeed," Tomlinson said. "The app is just one more fantastic resource to get us closer to meeting our district's goals."

 
 

 

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