MANATEE -- Starting Monday, parents of high schoolers get online access to their children’s academic information, including class grades and attendance.
FOCUS -- Manatee County Schools’ new web-based information system -- has merged all student record-keeping, replacing the outgoing technology known as Pinnacle.
Parents of high schoolers will be the first to use the parent portal, provided they turn in their school’s required form. Middle school children’s grades will be available Nov. 28. Parents of elementary school children will not be able to access the site until early 2012.
“Pinnacle only provided access to high school and middle school” in the past, said Scott Martin, assistant superintendent.
Equipping parents of elementary schoolers with FOCUS is “just a matter of the roll out,” Martin said. The roll-out date is tentatively set for April.
FOCUS, however, has experienced recent problems. Teachers have become frustrated due to the computer system’s crashes and capacity problems.
“We don’t anticipate any problems,” Martin said. “We’re continuing to make improvements.”
Martin told school board members an additional $88,000 was spent to get more capacity to accommodate teachers using the system during peak times of the day.
“We already know that everybody can’t be on the system at the same time,” said Pat Barber, president of the teachers union.
As a result, the district set up a schedule of times when elementary, middle and high school teachers can use the system. The staggered schedule seems to be working.
The next test, Barber said, is progress reports. Teachers will start those Nov. 22. Barber said the Manatee Education Association has asked for teachers to receive additional time on the computer system to work on progress reports.
“The biggest concern is that they are given the opportunity to work outside the duty time and not enough opportunity to work during the duty time,” Barber said about teachers gaining access to FOCUS.
FOCUS cost the district nearly $1 million. Superintendent Tim McGonegal has said the main reason for purchasing FOCUS is to have a web-based system that incorporates all student record keeping from FCAT scores and attendance to grades.