Young Scholars works out kinks in dismissal system

Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania is using the mobile app PikMyKid to help organize dismissal and make sure each kid is accounted for.
Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania is using the mobile app PikMyKid to help organize dismissal and make sure each kid is accounted for.

About 240 parents are on the PikMyKid mobile application system used at Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania Charter School.

It’s a new system that rolled out last month as a way to make student dismissal a little more organized, while also making sure each student is accounted for by the time the school day ends.

General dismissal is at 3:30 p.m. and lasts about 20 minutes. There are two more dismissal times after that for students in an extended day program.

But some of parents who use the app to help organize pickup, said they hope the system will run a little smoother in the near future.

App meant to help with dismissal system, but causing some frustration

Many complaints from parents were about traffic congestion near the entrance of the school that sometimes backs up on Westerly Parkway — sometimes all the way to Blue Course Drive at the intersection where the school is located.

Chairman of the school’s Behavior Interventions Committee Bill Ewing, who also helps run the dismissal system, said he’s hopeful things will work out, but glitches in the system were inevitable.

The challenges school administrators face with the new system are multifold:

▪ Responsibility of the app user: Staff asks for parents to make appropriate pickup changes ahead of time. For instance, if a child’s main means of pickup is by bus, but a student will be picked up by a parent instead, Ewing said parents must make those changes on the app. That automatically notifies school administration who can then accommodate those changes to make a smooth dismissal transition.

▪ System Issues: Ewing has been in contact with developers to help work out kinks in the app. He said the app doesn’t recognize any changes to the system that are not within the regular car line pickup system designated at the school. The app also only allows for up to two primary delegates. If the user wants to change or add more users to the account, they must make the change manually in the app.

▪ Construction: The school is undergoing building expansions and parking lot roadwork. The parking lot work was completed Wednesday after a three-day temporary closure of an access lane. That road generally allows drivers to loop around the back of the building to exit campus away from those entering the parking lot.

I think there is a lot to improve on, but we seem to have it down. We just need to work around some of these things

Bill Ewing, chairman of Behavior Interventions Committee

“I think there is a lot to improve on, but we seem to have it down,” Ewing said. “We just need to work around some of these things.”

In the end, the dismissal change was made for student safety.

“All the kids are accounted for,” Ewing said. “We know daily what means of pickup they used and if they were, in fact, picked up.”

The system assigns each student a number that matches the number of the app user who is picking up the child. If that child, instead, walks to school or rides the school bus, staff are able to enter the child’s number in the app, which creates an automatic update to parents on their child’s dismissal status.

App allows each student to be accounted for during dismissal

“We had an issue where a dad came after a mom picked up the child, and he announced both numbers for both of his kids,” Ewing said. “I said, ‘Wait a minute. I have one child that’s ready to come up, but it says the other child was already dismissed.’ The dad confirmed his wife came to pick her up.”

In the old dismissal system, staff would’ve had to undergo a longer process to identify where the child was.

“We knew immediately where that child was without having to go into the hassle of paperwork and asking around, and it’s giving immediate feedback to the parents,” Ewing said.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo