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Franklin Regional officials: Problematic software getting better

| Thursday, March 14, 2013, 11:42 a.m.

Time continues to remedy problems with the Franklin Regional School District's student-information portal, officials said.

SchoolMax Enterprise, an online portal used for scheduling and communication, has been riddled with problems since the district implemented it in the fall of 2011. Supervisor of technology Brad Schrecengost said recent upgrades to how data is stored in the system has made the system “100 percent better than three months ago.” He said he hopes to begin retraining teachers who are struggling with the system soon.

“The system is not intuitive,” Schrecengost said. “That's a lot of our problems.”

The district abandoned its Dashboard system to pilot the SchoolMax Enterprise program for Harris School Solutions at a reduced cost. But implementation did not go smoothly, and, amidst a barrage of parent complaints, officials withheld payments to the company until some of the major bugs were fixed. Harris School Solutions has worked closely with the district for the past year to improve the system, which was piloted with just a few districts in Pennsylvania.

The program enables parents to view schedules, grades, attendance information – including tardiness – and, in many cases, assignment information.

High school students already have submitted schedule requests using the system. Board Vice President Joe Seymour said his children completed the process with no problems but said “they might be registered at Penn-Trafford for all I know about it.”

Board member and parent Kimberly Bondi raised concerns about the program, which she uses to keep tabs on her teenage children. She said she is worried that teachers struggle to make sense of the system.

“The teachers say they spend a lot of time on it,” Bondi said.

“I wonder if we may have been pennywise and pound foolish.”

Schrecengost said retraining for teachers who are unsure of how to remotely log in or who struggle to use the software will begin soon. Overall, he's happy with the progress made in the past year.

“It's a lot better,” Schrecengost said. “We're getting better – we're just not there yet.”

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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