BISD launches new mobile ‘App’
Tuesday, 14 February 2012 by Justin Cox
Belton ISD has made unparalleled commitments toward using technology to empower its students.
Now, it's expanding that commitment by empowering the parents.
On Jan. 20, Belton ISD announced the release of the much anticipated iOS app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad available on Apple's App Store. After just 10 days, the app has eclipsed the 1,000-download mark, and showing no signs of slowing down.
Belton ISD Communications Specialist Renee Cervantes, who manages much of the social media sites and website content, helped design the look and feel of the app, which, gives parents instant access to a variety of basic information that will be available to them at any time, day or night.
"We made a list of common things that parents request, and from there we knew that the app needed to be able to, at the minimum, make that information accessible quickly and easily," Cervantes said. "So we started with that, and eventually included things like athletic events, school menus, contact information – our goal was to gather that information into an application. Latest news – there is always something going on, constantly updating district news headlines. Parents at a checkout line or at the doctor's office. What parent wouldn't like that?"
It's a technological first for Central Texas school districts, which is nothing new for this district.
The school was the first to get involved in a pilot program bringing iPads into classrooms last year in an impressive program where students worked corroboratively to solve real-world problems, with professional development provided by Apple Computer.
Cervantes said she and System Administrator Rachel Starnes worked hand in hand on development of the app from the very start.
"We both worked on the design of the buttons, We were going after a sleek, clean, and organized look," she said. "Organization was our key when we designed the iPhone app because we wanted to make the information for parents on the go easily accessible. But we also wanted to add some things like social media integration into it as well such as Facebook and Twitter. We're constantly posting stuff on our website, and parents praise that, because they want to check in on their students while they're away from them."
Cervantes said the school is currently in development of an app for the Android Market for Android-enabled devices.
Popular buttons on the app include: Calendar, Athletics, Fine Arts, Nutrition (for School Lunch menus), Grades (Skyward) and Resources, which will link to Bus Schedules, Local Weather Forecasts, Campus Counselor directory and Board of Trustees. Other buttons will link to district news, videos, photos and the district map.
Belton ISD Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon said in a release last week, "We have been planning the launch of our app for several months. (Cervantes and Starnes) have worked very hard to make this happen, and now we are ready. The app will provide another way for us to communicate with our families in a quick and efficient manner."