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Birmingham District Saves Parents Time With New Registration System

Birmingham City Schools (BCS), a large urban school district serving Birmingham, AL, implemented a new registration system this year in an effort to save the district money, protect it from potential legal problems and, most importantly, save parents and district staff members time.

The district's new Registration Gateway, from SRC Solutions, can be used by parents registering their children for school from anywhere at any time. Parents also have the freedom to take as long as they like to complete the process, although it can also go quite quickly — particularly if another student in the family has already been registered.

"It is estimated that BCS will save costs related to personnel hours, paper and printing," said Sherene Carpenter, attendance coordinator for BCS. "The main goal is to save time."

Carpenter said one component of the new registration system, which the district just began using this year, she finds particularly helpful is the safeguards to make sure that only "clean data" is put into the system, meaning district officials do not have to go back and make corrections.

For instance, the system is aware of all the potential addresses in the school district's boundaries. As a result, it has a type-ahead address function so, if a parent were to make a mistake when typing in his or her address, the system will self-correct immediately before moving on to the next step.

To avoid any potential Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) concerns, medical forms that parents fill out with information about their children is forwarded directly to the district's medical staff, avoiding the need for anybody else to have access to it.

Once the first student in a family is registered via Registration Gateway, the process is much quicker for successive students in the same family, typically taking less than half the time as the first.

The registration process also asks for information for younger children in a given family, potentially giving the district data and information that can help in upcoming years with plans for kindergarten and pre-kindergarten classes.

The system also employs voice prompts and offers the possibility for the district to sell advertising on the site, further defraying the cost.

Carpenter said, "The registration process is more streamlined and organized," for the district that serves more than 25,000 students in 49 schools.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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