Here on the Connect blog, we often focus on big-picture issues like parental involvement or student achievement. But the more mundane matters of school governance – attendance or school nutrition programs – are vital to the well-being of students, and they can have a real impact on a K-12 district’s academic success and its bottom line.
Schools employ a wide range of systems district to handle cafeteria translations, which can make it difficult to establish an effective process for tracking student information and communicating updates to parents. In the Essex Town School District school leaders found the AlertNow system, as powered by Blackboard Connect, to be a valuable time-saving tool for effectively communicating updates to parents regarding student accounts.
Essex Town School District, located in Essex Junction, Vermont, serves about 1,250 students across three schools, including two elementary and a middle school. When the school set out to improve district and emergency communication, they implemented the AlertNow system. The service proved useful and reliable, but the district also needed a way to contact parents with low or over-drawn school lunch balances.
After attending an online training session, the district’s Child Nutrition Coordinator, Bonnie Szarkowski, learned that AlertNow could be used to send messages to parents based on data from the child nutrition management system. Working with the Client Care team, the district was able to regularly populate a list of students with low or over-drawn lunch accounts and send notifications to parents asking them to update the account.
“Messages are sent out to parents twice a week and it really works,” says Szarkowski. “Accounts are adjusted almost immediately after the messages go out.” In addition to the effectiveness, Szarkowski says the AlertNow reporting tools are also useful, as it is easy to tell who has received the message or even if the contact information is out of date. “The reports help serve as a record of outreach attempts. We look at them and decide if we need to try another more personalized approach.”
With notification tools from Blackboard Connect, Essex Town School District has been able to manage student systems and set up an effective process for notifying and reaching out to parents. “I don’t know how we did it before AlertNow. We have saved so much time and staff resources.”