Beekmantown Central School Technology Coordinator Gary Lambert with a web page from Schooltool open in the background.
In 2005, Beekmantown Central School officials decided the district needed more transparency.
The community needed to know what teachers did for them and parents should have more insight to how their children were performing in school.
“We crafted our own system, and this pre-dated any district in this county doing it,” said Gary Lambert, technology coordinator for Beekmantown Central School.
Suddenly grades and other information was available online.
That was until last year when school officials determined the process was too cumbersome, taking up too much time and not providing everything the district wanted available to faculty, staff and parents.
During the 2011-12 school year, school officials explored replacing the former student information system, specifically by examining what alternatives were supported by the Northeastern Regional Information Center (NERIC), a division of the Capital Region BOCES.
“We knew we would have to change sooner or later and looked at several systems,” Lambert said. “We held meetings with teachers and administration and clerical staff and brought vendors in for input.”
Beekmantown selected Schooltool as having the best fit for the district.
“With Schooltool, Beekmantown Central School is providing better, more fluid access to information for staff as well as parents and students,” Lambert said.
It provides parents access to grades, assignments, discipline history, attendance, communications and soon progress reports and report cards. A parent can check the site and see which class a child is in before going to school.
“This is accomplished through the Schooltool Parent Portal,” Lambert said. “The Schooltool Parent Portal is one of many ways to keep in touch with your child’s academic progress, and is available to all parents in the Beekmantown Central School District, regardless of your child’s grade level.”
The Schooltool Parent Portal was released on Jan. 20, and since that time, 232 requests have been processed for user account access.
Feedback has been incredible, Lambert said.
Pamela Munson, a Beekmantown parent, said Schooltool came out before Regents week, and she discovered that her son was missing an assignment in English. He turned in the assignment and his average increased from a 90 to a 98. She discovered the same thing in Chemistry and that grade improved from a 79 to an 85.
“He would not have made the high honor roll for the first time ever in his 10 years of school if we had not been able to see his grades and get them updated,” Munson said. “I’m sure you’re aware how important high school average is when trying to get into colleges, so I am very grateful that we had this tool available.”
Lambert said three other area school districts are about to switch to Schooltool.
He pointed out that the system is costing the district less than the previous one.
“We can pull up reports we could never generate easily, and we are being more efficient and minimizing duplication,” Lambert said.
Another highlight, he said, is if a student has a nut allergy and it is in their profile, the cafeteria services are notified at the point of sale.
Also, if there is an emergency drill and students are evacuated to the Crete Center in Plattsburgh, the administrator can pull up attendance on his or her smart phone and make sure all students are accounted for.
“It’s 2012, and this is what districts should be doing,” Lambert said. “This is the right product for the right reason at the right time.”