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"PowerSchool" would pull paper from Waynesboro Area School District

April 10, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- No more report cards posted on the refrigerator.

Instead, those student assessments could be posted on the Internet courtesy of a proposal before the Waynesboro Area School Board.

Report cards would be joined by school menus, calendars, class assignments and course request forms if the board opted to start using an online system known as PowerSchool.

"No more paper, pencil or postage," Assistant Superintendent Gloria Walker said.

She asked the board to consider spending $138,000 to implement PowerSchool, which would have an annual maintenance fee of $19,000. Six months to a year would be needed to provide training for staff and to get the system ready to where it could "go live."

Once that happened, parents would log onto PowerSchool using their secure passwords to monitor student academic progress. They could change information like home phone numbers and medication data.

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A benefit with this system is that parents could easily change, for example, their contact information, which would be forwarded to each sibling's school, according to Walker.

She said families without Internet access would receive printouts of the information they need initially, but other schools have found that nearly all parents have gotten online with the program within three years of its start.

The board, which is considering PowerSchool as part of its 2008-09 budget, asked Walker several questions Tuesday about passwords, backup, privacy and the percentage of families that would be able to use it.

"Not everybody has a computer in their home," board member K. Marilyn Smith said.

When the district began using an automated system to deliver phone and e-mail messages about emergencies and attendance this year, about two-thirds of the district's 3,100 families signed up with working e-mail addresses, Walker said.

Initial estimates are that the district could save $40,000 a year in paper and postage costs.

Walker held up a 2-inch blue binder with 122 pages of the high school's course selection guide as a demonstration. That, she said, could all be done through online registration and electronic parent verification.

"This then automatically goes to the guidance department, and the guidance department can check it," Walker said.

"Colleges have been using programs like this for many years," board member Chris Devers said.

Also included in PowerSchool would be cafeteria functions, including the daily sheets that students use to mark choices to be delivered to food services personnel. That information would be a function of the system from within the classroom.

"No more little pieces of paper to decide what Johnny needs or what Mary ordered," Walker said.

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