MUSD’s new calling system, tracking attendance and aiding parents

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A group of 20 parents wait in the parking lot for their children to return from a soccer game.

The kids were supposed to be back at 7 p.m., but as the clock approaches 8 p.m., parents begin to wonder if their children are all right. After another 20 minutes of waiting, the bus finally pulls up. The coach apologizes to parents and explains that a flat along the way delayed them.

The coach had called all the parents he had numbers for to let them know about the delay, but those in the parking lot didn’t get the message and spent an hour and a half worrying.

This scenario, as explained by District Director of Technology Jack Walbrecht, is one that may soon be a problem from the past.

The district is working on the implementation of a new communication system that will send parents alerts via text message, automated phone call and even e-mail.

“This system is going to go a long way to improve communication in the district,” Walbrecht said.

Parents will choose the types of messages they would like to receive, and, once district personal put the messages into the system, they will be sent out to those parents.

“In the case of the bus scenario, the driver could have called into the system, put a message in, and it would have been sent instantaneously to all the parents,” Walbrecht said.

However, the system, which cost the district nearly $21,000, is still in the beginning stages of implementation.

Walbrecht indicated the first use of the system would be to replace the current attendance tracker that automatically calls parents to let them know their child is absent. The old system, according to Walbrecht, needed to be replaced because it was failing to notify parents and lacked a provision to document whether or not parents were called.

“We had to have our secretaries make attendance calls, which consumes a lot of time,” he said.

With the new system district staff will be able to verify if the call to the parent went through or not. This new system will be launched at the high school by Jan. 7, and the other schools in the district will follow shortly thereafter.

“I have visited schools in the Valley who use this system, and it is a great resource to those communities,” said school board member Tracy Davis.