City schools making changes, saving money
Teachers across the county have already been preparing for the start of a new school year and several of those preparations have included getting familiar with changes to some of the programs they will use on a daily basis.
On Wednesday, teachers with the Russellville City School System attended an assembly where they learned they would be using a new e-mail system and a new student management system in the upcoming year.
Superintendent Rex Mayfield said their system would be using INow, which is a web-based student accountability system.
The State Department of Education requires all school districts in the state to use the INow program, which means teachers at local schools who were used to the previous STI system will have a lot of learning to do in the next several weeks.
“Our teachers have received INow training over the last few days and it will definitely take some getting used to,” Mayfield said, “but the new system has several features that will be beneficial for teachers, students and parents.”
Mayfield said INow provides a feature where parents of children in kindergarten all the way through the 12th grade will be able to check their child’s attendance, grades and discipline records.
“This feature will be helpful to our parents but it won’t be available right away,” he said. “Logins and passwords for the parents will have to be set up so that will take a few weeks.”
For the teachers, they will now have the ability to input grades from home, something they haven’t previously been able to do.
“In the past, teachers had to be on a computer in the school system to input grades so this will make things a little more convenient for them,” Mayfield said.
INow will also make the transferring process easier for students who transfer to a different school within Alabama since the system is web-based and used by every other school system in the state.
Even though it might take some time to work out all the kinks and learn to use the program, Mayfield said he felt it would be more efficient for everyone involved.
City teachers also learned on Wednesday they would be using Gmail as their new e-mail service provider, which saved the school system about $10,000.
“The system’s e-mail was previously stored on a server, and you can imagine the amount of mail we received system-wide,” Mayfield said. “The server went out so we were faced with either buying a new server or finding an alternative.”
Mayfield said Joel Andrews, the technology coordinator for RCS, talked to a few other systems that used Gmail and discovered it would provide the same services at a lower cost.
“Gmail is free for schools so we ended up saving $10,000, which is great because we’re always trying to save where we can with money being so tight,” he said.
The switch in service providers will not affect the e-mail addresses for faculty or staff.
“All these changes will take some getting used to but we feel the results will be better in the end,” Mayfield said.