Schools to pilot online registration system

COSTA MESA — To lighten parents' paperwork in signing children up for the next school year, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District this summer will test an online registration system at Costa Mesa and Corona del Mar high schools.

If the pilot run is successful, officials said, the program will be expanded to other campuses.

The school board approved a contract Tuesday night with Jireh Information Systems Inc. to try a school registration and student management software program, K-12 Online. The online system will replace the back-to-school stack of papers parents fill out every summer.

"[We thought] there's got to be a better way," said George Knights, the district's director of professional learning communities and K-12 assessment. "It's easier to do taxes … than register your children for high school or middle school."

Online registration will be implemented at Costa Mesa High and CdM, but the district anticipates expanding it to all of the schools the following year, said Charles Hinman, the assistant superintendent of secondary education.

Newport-Mesa traditionally sends parents thick packets of paper, containing emergency cards, health surveys and other vital documentation. Parents are expected to fill out the forms and return them to the school during registration week, which can involve standing in long lines.

The online system will allow the district to go nearly paperless and fill out all registration forms online, using a student-specific access code, Knights said.

The software will keep the student's latest information on file, so parents can just update it, he said.

The online registration portal also can be customized to add athletics and booster pages and allow parents to purchase items like yearbooks and Parent Teacher Assn. memberships with a credit card.

Parents will still have to come down to the school to show their completed registration forms, but it will be faster and easier, Knights said.

Schools will also have a plan to open their computer labs for residents without Internet access, he said.

Director of Information Technology Alan Engard said the company uses all of the safeguards needed to protect student information, and parents don't have to worry about getting spammed.

"We're very comfortable," he said. "It maintains all the confidentiality and integrity of our data."

In other schools news, on Wednesday the district sold $95 million in bonds for campus upgrade projects before 10:30 a.m., said acting Supt. Paul Reed.

The bonds are part of the $282-million Measure F, which voters approved in November 2005.

The money will be used for the construction of a theater at Costa Mesa and Corona del Mar high schools. CdM and Costa Mesa's adjoining middle schools will get "enclaves," which will give the seventh-and eighth-graders there a new building for most of their classes so they will be more separate from the high schools.

The bonds will also be used to begin renovating Newport Harbor High School's Davidson Field.

The school board approved the sale of up to $100 million of the bonds in April.

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