Havre Daily News
Playing hooky has become a lot harder for Havre Public School students.
Through a Web-based program, Havre parents can access everything from absences to cafeteria purchases with the click of a mouse.
Havre's Parent @ School online information system has “caught on like wildfire” according to assistant superintendent Dennis Parman.
So far, 690 parents have registered on the Web site. Parman said that represents the parents of about half of the student population.
Brenda Evans, a member of Havre Public Schools' communication strategy team, said she uses the site about five times a week.
“I absolutely love it,” said Evans, a parent of two middle school students. “I don't use it to get after my kids, but to open lines of communication.”
Parman said the site has had 24,500 hits since the program went online for all school buildings in September.
“It's kind of phenomenal,” he said. “I have seen as many as 12 parents on at one time during the day.”
The results of a recent voluntary online survey of 100 registered parents reported that the most used categories on the site are access to grades and food service activities, Parman said.
Parman's son, Tucker, a freshman at Havre High School, said the system is a mixed blessing.
“I don't like it because if I do badly, my parents can see it. But, if they look at my grades and I am not doing well, they put me back in line,” the 14-year-old said.
Shelli Fisk, who has one child in middle school and another in high school, said she uses the system about twice a week.
“I think it's the best thing the schools have done,” Fisk said. “We're more on top of it now instead of waiting for midterm grades.”
With the program, parents can see final grades before they arrive in the mail. To access the program, parents have to register for an account. The parents' information is verified by the school district, so it may take a few days before new users can access the system.
Parents can not only see the amount of money their children have spent on lunch, but can access an itemized list of what their children have bought each day.
Pam Hillery said she uses the system at least every other day to keep tabs on her son at Havre Middle School and daughter, who is in kindergarten.
Hillery said she checks to see what her son, Dolan Tuss, has for lunch.
“If it's junk, then he has to pay with his own money, but he usually stays within the realm of decent food,”she said.
Hillery said she started using the system as soon as it was available.
The system was tested last spring for Havre Middle School parents and became available for all Havre schools' parents in September.
In grades four through 12, parents and students can access current grades and homework assignments. Students' eating habits and absences can be viewed for students of all grades.
“We've given you as much as we can at this moment. If that's not enough, contact the teacher,” Parman said.
Also included are links to teachers' e-mail addresses, lunch menus and daily schedules.
High school students and their parents can view transcripts and graduation requirement listings to help with schedule planning.
“We try to provide a one-stop shop Web site,” Parman said.
“If I was a parent, I would want to know how my child was doing and how he was performing in school,” Dolan Tuss said. “I think it's a clever idea and the best way to do it. A lot of people probably couldn't do it five years ago when less people had computers, but now most people have computers.”
Hillery said her husband, Paul Tuss, also uses the system.
“We're not computer geeks, but we're excited to be able to access the information,” she said.
Problems with the system have come up in the past few months, Parman said.
He said the most frequent request is to keep the site updated. Some parents view their child's grades every day and the system is on a 24-hour cycle so newer grades take time to be accessible, Parman said.
Over the summer break, the site will be revamped to make it easier to navigate.
The site can be accessed through the Havre Public Schools site at www.havre.k12.mt.us.