Late this summer, parents will be able to fill out their child’s student registration paperwork online — even if it’s 5 in the morning and they’re on a laptop while vacationing in Seattle.
The Philomath School District will unveil a new registration system for students designed to offer conveniences available through modern-day technology. Parents can avoid long lines to write down the same information they had filled out on forms the previous year. And on the other end, school officials will enjoy a process that allows them to do their jobs more efficiently.
“We typically have gone all paper with registration and knew that we needed to get into the newer century and make sure that there were online opportunities which will pull up information that’s current that exists about kids already, so it’s not like starting from scratch with the registration form,” Susan Halliday, principal at Philomath Elementary and Blodgett schools, said about the system, which is called Registar.
The Linn Benton Lincoln Education Service District makes Registar available as an add-on feature to its student information system. The ESD serves 12 school districts — Alsea, Central Linn, Corvallis, Greater Albany, Harrisburg, Lebanon, Lincoln County, Monroe, Philomath, Santiam Canyon, Scio and Sweet Home. In addition, there are a few other districts that pay in to use the student information system.
Philomath plans to attach information on Registar to report cards that will be sent out in the coming days after this academic year ends and then registration packets that go out to parents in August with details on what they need to do to access the online system. Information will also be made available on the school district’s website and Facebook page.
Philomath has been in a wait-and-see mode with Registar to see how it’s worked for other school districts.
“We believe it’s going to streamline work,” Halliday said. "What we’ve done every year is we get the paper registration forms and it’s going back through every student and verifying or entering to make sure all that information is accurate. Now, it’s making sure all the spaces are filled in.”
Rob Singleton, the school district’s new technology director, has already gone through a Registar transition last year with Corvallis.
“There were some issues that had happened at the ESD that slowed it down some, but overall, it was a really good experience,” said Singleton, who chaired an implementation team at Corvallis.
Singleton said the LBL ESD networking personnel have assured him that there will not be any performance issues with the system — even if parents all log in at the same time and try to fill out paperwork.
“They learned some lessons from last year with the load and some things they had in place, and they have stress tested those infrastructure pieces,” Singleton said. “I think they’ve got a firm handle on what it takes to have this big spike in people in August hitting the system.”
Other school districts have already been using Registar for enrollment for next year, Singleton said, and no problems have been reported.
The system will allow parents to sign off on permissions for their student along with viewing school policies and handbooks.
“It’s things like that to try and streamline the process but be able to give us the information we need,” Halliday said. “We know that we’ll accept paper this year if we need to and we’re also going to for registrations have kiosks or labs or something set up with help available so that if people need to fill these things out on site, they can.”
The kiosks or labs that will be available on site also cover the needs of any families that may not have computers at home.
Although the online registration system will represent a convenience, it won’t entirely eliminate the physical presence. After all, most parents want to meet their children’s educators and school officials want to meet families.
“That’s something that we haven’t let go of,” Halliday said. “We still want you to come to registration day because you’ll get a student schedule, you’ll pay your fees and get the opportunity to do all of those things. Plus, it’s just nice to see families and their kids. There’s something about this community and our real desire to be able to say we want to see our kids and want them to be able to see each other and get in the mode of coming back to school.”
In addition, families can interact with the bus company, food service, the youth activities club and so on.
Parents and returning students will be tasked with three steps for registration:
• Completing Registar’s online registration. An email address will be required (parents with no active email can choose one of several free providers, such as Gmail).
• Completing the school’s registration form designed to gather specific information about school fees, school meals and other related items.
• In-person registration on the designated school day to obtain schedules, pay any fees and receive needed information from individual schools.
This year, the physical part of registration for Blodgett Elementary School, Clemens Primary School, Philomath Elementary School and Philomath Middle School will all take place on Aug. 15. Philomath High School will split registration days by grade level with seniors on Aug.14, juniors on Aug. 15, and freshman and sophomores on Aug. 16.
Both Halliday and Singleton lauded the efforts of Philomath’s registrars, particularly the high school’s Mandy Misner, and how they’ve all embraced the change.
“This is really going to make a huge difference in the amount of work, repetitive work, that they’ve had to do year after year and the efficiency in which they do it so I think Philomath’s going to be able to pick right up on lessons learned from other districts that have come before it,” Singleton said. "I can already tell they’re light years ahead here in the beginning of June for (the launch in) August.”
Staffers will go through some training before people leave for the summer at the end of June for not only familiarization purposes but to make sure all of the web pages are customized correctly.
Registar will feature sections unique to the grade level of students. For example, first-graders won’t see the same registration options as a seventh-grader or high school sophomore.
In this first year, incoming kindergartners were not included so the registrar is going old school one more time with those students.
“We did the kindergarten roundup before we were ready to move forward with this,” said Halliday, referring to last month’s registration process for those students. “Rather than trying to backfill, we just said we’ll take care of all the kindergarten kids (with physical paperwork).”
The Registar system has other capabilities, including the ability for high-schoolers to schedule classes. Philomath students won’t have that option available this first year with plans to possibly add it next spring. For now, only the registration module will be active.