The Parkston School District recently launched its smartphone applications, and Superintendent Shayne McIntosh has been fielding questions ever since. Here, he shares a bit of information about the process.
Q: How did you get the idea to create a smartphone app for your district?
A: One of the goals of our school board is continuously improving internal and external communication with the public in our area. We currently use television, listservs, emails, Internet, and one of things we identified was the trend of smartphones. One day, it just kind of clicked: Why couldnít we have a mobile app?
Q: What type of information is available through the app?
A: The appís main menu contains several options. A notifications option will let parents know about any school closings or early dismissals, and can alert parents as soon as a school closing is posted. Thereís a school directory with access to staff membersí photos and contact information. School lunch menus and event calendars are also available.
A lot of the information is on the schoolís website too, but this is just one more way to get the information out there for the public right away. Most people arenít in front of their computers all the time, but more and more people are carrying smartphones today. There are a lot of shortcuts, and the information is available instantly and presented specifically for this platform.
Q: What did the process involve once you decided to go ahead with creation of the app?
A: We did some research and went with a company that had some experience creating apps for school districts in other parts of the country. We wanted to find people within the state who could do this, but there wasnít a whole lot of local expertise in this field yet. There was a small cost for the district, and it took about 4-6 weeks for them to complete the app to our specifications. We wanted to have variety of selections on the main menu. Later, Parkston hopes to add sponsors to give local businesses the opportunity to advertise within the app and to help make it self-sustaining. So far, the feedback has been very positive.