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School District goes with high tech communications

August 27, 2012
By J.T. Whitehouse , Town Crier

Canfield schools are moving into the future by making advancements in the area of computer and handheld devices. The specifics were presented at last week's Board of Education meeting.

One advancement that will begin in September, according to business manager Rich Archer is the use of Parents will be able to sign up on the website and can then have the ability to manage their child's meal account over the Internet.

Archer said once parents activate the account, they will be able to take advantage of all the features it offers. The main feature is depositing into a meal account that will guarantee the child has lunch money.

"Cashiers will spend less time taking deposits at the serving line so the children will move through faster," Archer said. "It will allow them more time to eat their meals."

Deposits to the child's account can be made 24 hours a day and email reminders can be set up to send a notice of when the account is getting low. Parents will also be able to monitor the account. The account can also be used in other areas.

"We can expand the program into other areas such as supply fees and pay to participate fees," Archer said.

Another new piece of technology that will go into effect this year is a system called SchoolConnects. This web-based communication tool will allow administrators and teachers the ability to send mass communications to staff and parents.

"As an example, in the case of a weather-related closing, we will be able to send a message to 3,000 homes in under two minutes," Archer said. "We can even do a quick survey."

The messages can be sent via email, phone, or SMS text. The sender can choose to record the message in his or her own voice or have it generated by text-to-speech technology.

Superintendent Alex Jordan, who previously was superintendent at Pymatuning School District said the program was used there and works very well.

"About eight other districts in the area also are using it," he said.

The new technology is faster and more cost effective than sending home, or mailing out printed school notices. It also will cut down on the need to make hours of phone calls about homework assignments or last-minute cancellations.

In other business:

Jordan said the school district has received the Energy Star Leader 2012 award for its efforts in reducing energy use across the board.

The board approved the hiring of 11 band paraprofessionals whose wages and benefits will all be covered by the Canfield Band Boosters.

"It's at no cost to the district," said Treasurer Pattie Kesner.

Approval was given for Gymsters, advanced physical education at a cost of $40 per class for the 2012-12 school year. This is an exercise program for kids with special needs.



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