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Parents, students can stay up to date with Late School Bus Notification System

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Posted: Monday, January 21, 2013 12:01 am

FAIRBANKS — School bus commuters need not chance freezing ears, fingers or toes with the school district’s newly implemented Late School Bus Notification System.

Waiting for a late school bus will be an experience of the past for schoolchildren and parents if they sign on to the Late Bus Notification system via the school district’s PowerSchool program.

Once enrolled, parents and students are notified via text message, email and website announcements on the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District website.

The partnership between the school district and First Student Bus Company is an effort to enhance communication about delayed buses for morning and afternoon routes, but it does not include special education routes, said Bill Bailey, school district spokesman.

Bus drivers report to First Student dispatch if they are running late on their routes, and that information is entered into a secure Web interface that notifies parents and students via text message, email and website announcement.

Approximately 6,000 to 7,000 students across the district who live in an area with a school bus route/stop are eligible to ride and allowed to enroll in the new communication system.

To date, 900 guardians and students have signed up for late bus notifications with North Pole middle and high schools having the largest enrollment numbers — 257 parents and students, Bailey said.

The process to enroll is simple. Parents and guardians log into their PowerSchool guardian account and students log into their PowerSchool student account and download a step-by-step PDF tutorial. Multiple email addresses are accepted per account.

Parents and guardians who don’t have a PowerSchool account are urged to sign up for one, and those who do have accounts are urged to keep the information current with their child’s school.

Maintaining and updating  PowerSchool accounts is important not only to keep parents and students academically informed, but in the event of a school emergency, such as a weather closure, the school district releases an automated call to every phone number listed in a student’s PowerSchool profile.

Bailey encourages parents who are not signed up for the program to talk to their child’s school secretary to enroll.

He compares the PowerSchool student accounts to “online banking for academics.”

“Student profiles include grades, test scores, everything about your child you need to know as a parent,” Bailey said. “It’s a repository of your child’s academic career.

“Parents of high school students have the ability to track their child’s attendance. They can log right in to see if their child is in class, or if they turned in their assignment.”

Contact staff writer Mary Beth Smetzer at 459-7546.

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