Archive for Wednesday, August 30, 2006

De Soto schools adopt streamlined program

August 30, 2006

Although some minor problems shut down the new Skyward Family Access program at De Soto schools last week, administrators say it promises to be an important tool now that it's working.

Alvie Cater, district director of communications, said the program would be especially useful to parents.

"In Johnson County, parents are on the go, and this allows parents to have a one-stop shop to become more involved in their child's education," he said.

He explained that the program replaces five programs that the district previously used.

The new system, now available to parents at Mill Valley High School and Monticello Trails Middle School, gives parents instant access to their student's grades, assignments, and purchases at lunch, discipline reports and health records. The De Soto elementary schools report the same information except for student grades and assignments, which administrators say they'll implement at a later date.

Jeff Mildner, director of educational technology, said the program was similar to the district's old system, Parent Connect, but with improvements.

"Parent connect was basically a periodic snapshot of grades in specific points of time, that was pretty much it," he said.

The Family Access program allows parents to see a student's grade as the teacher posts it to the grade book. Instead of going online to each individual teacher's Web site at Mill Valley High School, the parent or student can go to Family Access and find out assignments for the day and due dates.

Mildner said the program was purchased at a cost of $198,000; however it will replace five other software programs in addition to Parent Connect that needed to be updated.

"It has helped us consolidate and do a single program," he said. "This was necessary. One way or another we had to go with a new student management system."

Family Access has a 128-bit encryption system and is only accessible to parents, teachers and school administrators.

Mildner said Family Access could also allow parents to pay online for their child's lunch program in the future, but that has not yet been implemented.

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