Working mother Carrie Weston says Chatham County's Parent Connect system would be very useful. "Oh, very useful, because I am very busy," she said.
It's designed to keep parents up to date on their children's progress online. "My understanding is that it was supposed to keep us updated in regards to you know if there was any missing homework, if they had come to school late, were absent, those type of things," said Weston. "You could log on at any time and it was supposed to be able to tell you their test scores if they had taken any tests, et cetera."
If, that is, it would work. Four weeks into this school year, parents were unable to log on. "There has been no usage. Hasn't been up yet," said Weston. "I keep calling the technician, the number it states to call, and they keep talking about a 21 count. I had no idea what this is. But it's just pretty frustrating, because the progress reports have already come out."
It turns out that refers to a 20 school day delay before the board of education's technical personnel put up the site. "The biggest holdup is due to the movements of students and teachers within the first 20-day time frame," said applications manager Kimberly Rhodes. "In order to get the schedules in place and the student data in place, we usually allow the schools the first 20 days of school time to make sure that information is there, the students are there, the teachers are there."
Rhodes added that the system would be online by 5:30pm today, which is was, and also that they are working to reduce that initial lag. Good news for Carrie Weston.
"You can't keep calling the teachers either, and I hate to do that, keep bothering them because I know they're very busy, so this should work adequately at least," Weston told us.
But we're reminded there's also a human element that can cause delays.
"If the teacher didn't enter the grades, or if they didn't enter the due date, that will cause a lag," said Rhodes. "If they have not graded the assignment. If they have not graded the assignment, that will cause a lag also. So we do have the human factor of the information not being there. Also what parents should be aware of is that the information that's displayed in Parent Connect is always a day late. The process runs every night around eleven o'clock."
School board officials also warn that not every school and every student is in the system at present, but say the majority within Chatham County are.