Tennessee school district rolls out new parent alert system

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A California-based development firm has beat out Adobe for a contract to create a content management system for schools.

Rutherford County Schools, a large Tenessee school district, is partnering with Edlio, a website developer, to launch a website and complementary mobile app that will allow district officials to notify parents of school closings and other alerts. Through the new site, parents will also be able to subscribe to receive daily emails about school goings-on.

“We’re seeing that many people are using mobile apps, so we wanted to reach them,” said James Evans, communications coordinator at Rutherford County Schools. “We’re going to be able to push notifications through the app as another layer of communication with parents.”

Adobe would have charged the school an annual subscription fee to continue supporting the system after it had been installed, Evans said. Edlio costs $41,000 in its first year and the contract spans for five years, costing the school district about $38,000 annually. The district has 46 schools with about 44,000 students.

A committee of district officials sent a request for proposals and received more than two dozens replies from different companies. They started with a list of 30 candidates, but when it boiled down to just two, Evans said that Edlio was the best fit for the district.

“Their price points, features and ease of use matched more of what we were aiming for,” Evans told EdScoop. “There
were other great options. But they were the best.”

The site announcement came last month, when the Rutherford County Board of Education approved a contract to develop a content management system. The district already has a School Messenger alert system in place which sends districtwide messages via phone and email, but the new app will be an added resource for parents. It’s scheduled to debut this fall.

The new tool will allow school officials to alert parents of school closures and emergencies with the push of a button. There are two types of emergencies, Evans said. Some pertain to weather closures, while others include school lockdowns due to suspicious behavior or police investigations. Parents will be able to receive up-to-the-minute updates when incidents like these occur.

They can also opt to receive daily emails about their children’s day at school from teachers. Parents will be able to receive a “digest” of their children’s assignments and lesson plans. The tool will not be used to report behavioral issues; it is designed “to keep parents informed,” Evans said.

“We want parents to have a consistent experience with our website and mobile app so they know where to get their information,” Evans said. “Research shows that kids who’s parents are involved in their education are more successful, so we want them to be informed.”

Reach the reporter at darlene.aderoju@edscoop.com and follow her on Twitter @buuukky and @edscoop_news.

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