Archive for Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Baldwin school district to start offering online enrollment next month

Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education

Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education

June 18, 2014

The Baldwin school district and a local technology company plan to start testing a one-of-a-kind online enrollment program this week for a planned July 1 roll out.

Mike Bosch, CEO of the Reflective Group, told the Baldwin school board Tuesday that the Baldwin City company and the district would carry out a mock enrollment to fine tune for the districtwide roll out of the online software. It is expected the online enrollment program would be ready for use on the district’s Web site, usd348.com, on July 1, he said.

The company spent about 200 hours developing the online enrollment program, Bosch said. Those hours included time spent with the secretaries in the district’s four schools, who helped clarify what could and couldn’t be done, he said.

The company and the district will both benefit from the partnership that led to the program’s development. Reflective Group hopes to market the enrollment software to other districts, and Baldwin USD 348 will receive the service free.

“We’re the guinea pig,” Baldwin Superintendent Paul Dorathy said. “There’s really nothing like this available. I think that will be a huge selling point for many districts.”

Bosch estimated online enrollment would save the district 650 manual labor hours and $10 per student. It will spare parents the need to stand in line during enrollment, the need to fill out the same forms at different district schools and possible experience privacy intrusions, he said. He estimated it would take from five to 10 minutes for a parent or guardian to enroll their first students online, with enrollment of subsequent students going faster.

With the program, parents or guardians registered with the district’s PowerSchool social media program will be able to enroll their children online, sign students up for activities and pay enrollment fees online with credit or bank cards. What makes the program unique is its ability to allow parents or guardians to sign students up for free and reduced lunches, Bosch said.

Kansas Department of Education administrators said there was no online enrollment programs now available that are capable of handling free- and reduced-price lunch enrollment, Bosch said.

To enroll online, parents and guardians would have to enter the email they used to register with PowerSchool, Bosch said. That and a PIN number acquired through the online process will help keep payments and information secure, he said. Like all cloud vendors. Reflective Group must comply with the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Systems security requirements and is subject to a monthly security audit, Bosch said. The online process will explain how parents and guardians can pay fees with cash or check if that is their preference or how to download documents to enroll students the traditional way, Bosch said.

Parents and guardians would find many of the information boxes included in the online process already filled with past information shared with the district, Bosch said. Any change made in a student's status would have to be approved by a school secretary, he said.

Reflective Group would meet with Baldwin City Public Library staffers this week to help them get acquainted with the online enrollment process so that they could assist parents or guardians using the library’s computers to enroll students, Bosch said.

No matter how many Baldwin school district students are enrolled online between July 1 and an as-yet unscheduled August deadline, the district will have a traditional enrollment at schools for those unaware of the option or with a preference to the traditional method, Dorathy said. Students new to the district will also have to enroll in the traditional way, he said. Those enrollment dates will be Aug. 6 and 7.

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