Education

Young Scholars finds benefits of dismissal system that uses mobile app

Bill Ewing checks-in cars as parents arrive after school to pick up their kids. Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania is using the mobile app PikMyKid to help organize dismissal and make sure each kid is accounted for.
Bill Ewing checks-in cars as parents arrive after school to pick up their kids. Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania is using the mobile app PikMyKid to help organize dismissal and make sure each kid is accounted for. adrey@centredaily.com

A Centre Region school is using a mobile application system aimed at making student dismissal a little more organized, while also making sure each student is accounted for by the time the school day ends.

But while student safety is one of the main goals at Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania Charter School, administrators also said the new system comes with challenges. Some challenges include making sure users understand the app, operating around school construction and working with developers to improve app features.

Chairman of the school’s Behavior Interventions Committee Bill Ewing said those kinks will likely be worked out with a little more practice, and a lot of cooperation.

It will take a collaborative effort, but we’re at a point where we know what we’re doing; we just need make sure we keep that up

Bill Ewing, chairman of Behavior Interventions Committee

“It will take a collaborative effort,” Ewing said. “But we’re at a point where we know what we’re doing; we just need make sure we keep that up.”

Ewing helped spearhead the new pickup system, which was rolled out last month. It allows staff, and parents or guardians of children at the school to use the PikMyKid app.

“One of our IT guys looked into a dismissal system that could make it safe and more efficient than what we previously had,” Ewing said. “They looked at four different programs and decided on PikMyKid.”

Dismissal system costs school about $3,000

The app is free for parents, but the system in total costs the school about $3,000.

Ewing said he initially contacted parents and guardians, described the new system, and then updated all cellphone numbers that paired individual data to the program.

Through the system, each student at the school is assigned a number, which is also assigned to the app user.

The app allows users to make changes to transportation means, whether it’s by pickup from a parent, riding the bus or walking. The app also automatically notifies users of their child’s dismissal status.

New dismissal routine uses number system that matches a kid to his or her pickup means

Staff who use the app get a view of pickup management and changes that help them organize dismissal.

And teachers who monitor children during dismissal can use the app to project data on a screen in their classroom that brings up the name of the student who is ready for pickup.

App users can log in and alert school staff when they’re up to five miles away from the school.

By GPS, it tracks when they are at the school, and a staff member, usually Ewing who is assigned to outdoor dismissal duty, will give the OK for the driver to loop around the front of the school and pick up the child, who is escorted out by another staff member.

The number on the vehicle’s dashboard must match app users and the number assigned to the child they’re picking up. If the designated person to pick up a child changes, the school must be notified.

“It’s a lot more safe, organized and a lot less distracting,” second-grade teacher Dana Galinsky said.

School has 3 pick-up times

Principal and CEO Levent Kaya said general dismissal is at 3:30 p.m. Extended day dismissals are at 4:30 p.m. and 5:10 p.m.

It takes about three minutes, at most, for the student to be delivered to his or her pickup site, Ewing said.

Under the old dismissal system, Ewing said there were staff who used a public address system to alert a child for pickup.

“It was loud; there were a lot of people running around,” Ewing said. “Sometimes parents would come in and we would have to track down the kid and yell out names, and check IDs.”

Now, the app uses a number system to match the child with their designated dismissal choice and to the person designated to pick them up.

Every kid is accounted for, and that’s what we really care about

Ewing

“Every kid is accounted for, and that’s what we really care about,” Ewing said.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo

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