Parents unable to get grades online

Pickerington parents will not be able to access their children¹s grades online ­ at least not yet.

At the Sept. 21 meeting, Walt Podgurski, Pickerington Schools director of technology, told the board of education that the electronic grade book system keeps crashing.

In August, Podgurski told the board that by the time interim reports were sent home, parents of students in grades 5-12 would receive usernames and passwords to enable them to view their children¹s grades online.

The district refers to the online grade system as Parent Assistant. As teachers post grades to their electronic grade books, parents can check their child¹s progress.

Podgurski said the district would not have the Parent Assistant ready by the time interims were sent home Sept. 29.

Pickerington Central High School physics teacher Kevin McChesney said "close to 100 percent" of the teachers are "frustrated" with the electronic grade book.

As Central¹s technology person, the teachers go to McChesney when the system crashes or after all the grades they entered disappear The system also miscalculates the scores.

"We all want this thing launched, but (sending parents their usernames and passwords before the system is fixed) will place the teachers in a difficult situation," Podgurski said. "I think it would cause more harm than good."

Podgurski said the fault lies with the software and/or the service provider.

The software is a newer version of the program that the schools successfully tested during the 2007-2008 school year. The older version had less options, but it was more reliable, Podgurski said.

The district wrote a letter to the provider asking to be released from their contract if the problems are not resolved.

Podgurski wants to continue working to fix the existing system rather than try a different company.

"Even if we decide today to not use (the current software or host), it would be very, very difficult to have it ready by July 1 next year," Podgurski said. "There is so much involved. To switch in nine months would be almost impossible."

Board member Lisa Reade said the district cannot have a "never-ending deadline" for when the Parent Assistant will launch.

"This is a huge deal," Reade said. "We need to deliver. This is a customer service issue."

"We need to go back to the drawing board to learn what we need to do to make the thing work," board president Wes Monhollen said.

In other business the board approved nearly $18,000 for Central High to purchase choir robes.

The existing tattered robes were purchased when Central opened 18 years ago.

"They were purchased before kids at the school were even born," choir director John Long said.

The board instructed Logan that both Central and North will need to charge the students usage fees for the robes.

The fees would enable the choirs to replace their robes in the future without asking the school board for help.

Reade said it "is difficult to ask the parents to pay" for choir robes that the schools will use for years after the current students have graduated.

The robes cost $132 and the choir required 136 robes.

"On behalf of my kids, thank you," Long said.

The choir will debut their robes at their holiday performance.

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