By LINDSAY CAREY
The Board of Education has approved the use of an online data management system, which has been implemented by other towns regionally and nationally, starting with kindergarten registration in February.
Executive Secretary and District Registrar Michele Passamano said she has spoken to staff from two of the 21 school districts in Connecticut that use InfoSnap, including the neighboring town of Plainville. Based on her research, she feels that the program will make school registration more efficient for Southington.
Palmisano said the registration information forms will not change, however all new families to the district will be asked to complete the forms online through InfoSnap
After submitting their application for registration, parents will be able to make an appointment with the district registrar online based on her availability. As district registrar, Passamano will immediately be notified via email about the new appointment and will be able to review the information before the parents come in to meet with her.
This would be beneficial because Passamano will be able to see if there were any documents missing or conflicts with the information provided prior to meeting with the parents.
“I can shoot them an email or a phone call and say, ‘Hey, prior to coming in bring this with you,’” said Passamano as she pitched the program to the board. “That does save them from having to go back and forth or having to leave an appointment with me to schedule another appointment.”
The district registrar said that those appointments are not only for checking proof of residence and birth certificates, but are also an opportunity for families to be welcomed into the Southington Public Schools.
“One of the things that I think Southington does take pride in and I take pride in myself is to welcome families,” said Passamano. “I think having that welcoming face is a big advantage and we’re not losing that by going with this.”
Passamano said she feels this will open up more time in the appointments for parents to speak more about their child’s needs and allow her to share with them some positive information about the school their child will be going to, instead of simply what documents they are missing.
“Any type of information that I normally might rush through, I think I can actually take some time and give a little more one on one personal time with them, so we’re not losing who we are by going in with this registration program,” said Passamano.
She also said using InfoSnap would save time for the secretaries who have to enter all the data for the 200 plus incoming kindergarten students and at the same time reduce the risk of human error. The information would automatically be available through the PowerSchool portal, which staff and parents at the high school and middle schools are already using.
She also shared that moving to online registration would save money and time for the staff members who have to put together all the pages the school sends out at the start of the school year. Annually the school system is making about 99,284 copies, which translates to about 20 cases of paper, for distribution of information at the beginning of the school year.
Board of Education member Patricia Queen noted that, as a parent, filling out all of the forms only to provide the same information can be frustrating. Passamano said using InfoSnap will remedy this problem.
If the personal information like the home address and emergency contacts remain the same from year to year, parents can just confirm the information is up to date without having to fill everything out again. Reminders would be sent out to parents to update their information annually, however, parents would be able to go in and update the information at any time throughout the year.
She also shared that parents whoo are registering a younger child could simply add a new student file to their account and most of the information would be copied over.
Passamano shared parents could potentially use InfoSnap for medical forms, permission slips, PTO membership, and applications for free or reduced lunches. The school system would be able to customize the program to whatever they would like it include.
For parents who do not have access to computers, Passamano said that there will be laptops available in her office for registration and on kindergarten information days there will be five laptops available at each school for the influx of parents on those days. She also said the district could recommend that parents use the library.
To start the program up for the first year with just kindergarten registration will cost the district $6,120 and the payment for the next year would be $12,240. For the 2016 school year, the cost of the program will be based on the number of students registering in the district.