MCPS Considering App To Distribute Information

MCPS Considering App To Distribute Information

Messages would include information about meetings, student opportunities

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Montgomery County school leaders are looking into adding a “communication app” to transmit information about everything from weather-related closings to upcoming meetings.

The app would send alerts, similar to the county’s text alert system – now used to notify residents of severe traffic, weather emergencies and school closures – to inform families of meetings, important academic developments and news.

“In talking with community groups like the NAACP Parents Council, they’ve expressed a need for more direct, targeted communication and I feel we should respond to that,” said District 2 school board member Rebecca Smondrowski, who proposed the app. “Informational texts would increase … meaningful conversations.”

Smondrowski said she is leaving it up to school officials to determine whether the application would dispatch text message alerts or if it would be a downloadable smartphone app.

Families would have the option to opt out of receiving the notifications but Smondrowski said she envisions the app to be a critical tool in closing communication gaps between schools and families.

The school system has been criticized in recent months for a lack of transparency in advertising community meetings and information about student opportunities.

Other school board members appear to support the idea, but vice president Pat O’Neill said she is unsure the app could be identified and rolled out by next school year.

“I don’t want to have an artificial deadline that may compete with something else that is a high priority,” O’Neill said.

Smartphone apps have been around for more than a decade and are commonplace in digital commerce and branding.

Superintendent Jack Smith said information about the feasibility of the project’s timeline and estimated costs will be provided to the board before its next meeting in May.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com

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