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District implements new school locator technology

Iowa school district aims to better help families navigate school boundary changes

school-districtThe Iowa City Community School District recently launched a new school locator technology as part of the district’s comprehensive plan to communicate 2015-2016 elementary school year boundary changes to students’ families.

The tool, SchoolSearch, launched in November 2014 and is a component of geovisual analytics software company GuideK12’s suite. GuideK12 designed the tool in order to better inform families about boundaries, program or school options.

SchoolSearch, which schools can also use as a standalone component, is a revision of the company’s previous DistrictView tool, according to Julie Fitzgerald, vice president of marketing for GuideK12.

“SchoolSearch is available 24/7, so parents can find accurate school assignments anytime, not just when offices are open and specific personnel are available,” said David Dude, chief information officer for Iowa City Community Schools.

Next page: How the locator technology will help parents and administrators

While the district currently has 19 elementary schools, an additional school will join the district in the 2015-2016 academic year.

Parents can enter their respective addresses into the tool on the district’s web page in order to view their students’ assigned school and new school boundaries.

“This tool will make it easy for us to ensure families are registered at the correct school and eliminate many headaches that come with boundary changes,” Dude said.

SchoolSearch is designed to verify that families are assigned to the correct school by identifying mistakes or incorrect addresses in the system.

Prior to Iowa City Community Schools’ launch of School Search, the school district’s demographer organized school selection information with spreadsheets, listing all of the addresses and the schools to which each address was assigned.

“It was challenging to use and complex to maintain,” Dude said.

Dude said the PDF maps of schools the district provided did not give families enough information about the schools, and added that while school choice is not available at Iowa City Schools, other districts can use advanced search tools to select schools by program type, magnet theme or other features.

The appropriate front office personnel will receive training on use of the tool to better assist families with questions.

As an additional component of the district’s comprehensive plan, parents will have access to brochures that provide achievement and demographic data for each school. Each brochure also features a QR code with school assignment information.

GuideK12, based in Eagan, Minn., serves more than 1 million students in the United States.

Rebecca Lundberg is an editorial intern with eSchool Media.

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