Mobile County Public School System Launch Parent Notification System for 2008-2009 School Year

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School System Aims to Improve AYP Funding, Emergency Response, and Home-School Connection with SchoolMessenger System

The Mobile County Public School System today announced the launch of a system-wide parent notification system. The school system, which serves 98 schools and more than 63,000 students, will use this new technology to improve annual yearly progress standards, reach families quickly in the event of an emergency, and improve the overall quality and frequency of home-school communications.

Boosting Annual Yearly Progress Performance
Under the Federal No Child Left Behind Act, school systems nationwide undergo an Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) assessment each Fall to determine the budget for the school year. AYP funding is based on progress made on a number of performance measures, including enrollment, attendance, academic achievement, and more. School system officials believe the new SchoolMessenger solution can play an important role in improving AYP in several ways:

  • Enrollment - From September 2 to September 29, total student enrollment figures from each school will be gathered. Once submitted, those figures are used to determine the school system's annual budget and cannot be changed or updated. To ensure an accurate count of the student population, school system officials are using all means of communication, including personalized calls, to inform families and to encourage their participation. If a child is new to the district or has yet to register, they are encouraged to enroll now. If a family plans to move, but transition plans are flexible or unclear, they should enroll in the school system in which the child currently resides so they can be accounted for.
  • Attendance - Getting students to school, and keeping them there, impacts parents, school officials, and the school system's AYP requirements. Effective this month, SchoolMessenger will begin automatically contacting families when their student does not show up for class, using home phones, cell phone, email, or text messaging. The school system's goal is to reduce truancy rates, and increase the number of students on campus each day.
  • Academic Achievement - Reports show that when parents are involved in their child's education, learning and test scores improve. SchoolMessenger provides a cost-effective way to keep families informed of school events and activities throughout the year. It also provides an easy way to alert families to statewide testing plans, since those scores contribute greatly to the AYP equation. Personalized calls or emails can remind parents to 'save the date' for testing, encourage them to prepare students with a hearty breakfast, and then stress the importance of having their child present on testing day.

"With a slowdown in the economy, school systems are under increased pressure this year to maximize the budget allocations possible through AYP," said Dr. Roy Nichols, MCPSS superintendent. "We believe our SchoolMessenger notification system will help families get more involved in their child's education throughout the year, and can have a positive impact on funding as well. It's a win-win for the school system, our schools, and the community-at-large."

Managing Through and After Emergencies
Mobile County Public Schools notification system will also play a key role in the system's ability to respond to emergency situations. Living in the hurricane belt requires a dependable process for weather-related communications, but any emergency that impacts students on a local campus demands a swift and immediate response by officials.

As students bring Emergency Contact forms home this Fall, parents are encouraged to review them carefully to be sure all home numbers, cell numbers, email addresses, and text messaging contact information is up to date and accurate. Two emergency contacts from each family are entered into the notification database, which is automatically, regularly updated throughout the year so that it is always emergency-ready. If at any time contact information changes, parents are advised to notify the school immediately so that records can be updated.

In times of emergency, SchoolMessenger provides massive calling capabilities that enable system or school officials to send thousands of messages in a matter of minutes. Doing so not only provides parents with accurate, real-time information as the situation unfolds, but can also help quell rumors by establishing a channel of communication that parents can rely on for updates.

"We want to applaud the school system's efforts to create a comprehensive program that places a clear priority on parent communications," said Julie Abbott, vice president of Sales for Reliance Communications, the parent company of SchoolMessenger. "Although this year AYP budgets are at stake, improving the home-school connection provides long-term benefits as well. Whether calling to let parents know about an upcoming open house, the statewide testing schedule, or to alert them to an emergency situation on campus, parents know that the system has a process in place to reach them quickly."

About Reliance Communications, Inc., and SchoolMessenger
Reliance Communications, Inc., is a leading provider of automated notification solutions for education, government, health care, business, and non-profit organizations. More than 8,000 organizations depend on the company's solutions to connect and effectively communicate with millions of people every day. Founded in 1999, the privately-funded company is headquartered in Santa Cruz, California. For information, visit http://www.relianceco.com and http://www.schoolmessenger.com.

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Carleen LeVasseur
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