Pike County Schools launches new app

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Want to find out what’s on the school’s lunch menu, or if baseball practice has been cancelled? Now, there’s an app for that!

Pike County Schools has developed a new free app that’s already available for android users and will also be free to download from the Apple Store to an iPhone in a couple of weeks.

“I really didn’t know what to expect to begin with,” said Stephanie Snyder, technology coordinator for Pike County Schools. “But the application is loaded with all sorts of resources for parents and students.”

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Pike County Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Bazzell approached Snyder with the idea about three months ago, she said. Bazzell had been impressed with the success and usability of an app launched by Troy University.

Not having been in the app-building business before, Snyder sought advice from SchoolinSites, the company who handles the school system’s website.

“They said the only other school they work with that had inquired about an application was in Texas,” Snyder said. “So they directed us to the company who developed the application for them.”

Snyder said she downloaded the Texas’ school’s application and used that as the basis for building the Pike County Schools app.

Only a short time later, WorldLink Apps finished the design for the school system and both the android and iPhone versions were released Monday. Snyder explained that the Apple Store takes about two weeks to approve new apps before making them available to download, but android users can go ahead and take advantage of the technology.

On the app, users will find district and school calendars, news for individual schools, lunch menus, teacher contact information, push to call numbers, maps, a parent portal to view grades and attendance, links to other resources and a way to use a new program being employed by the school system – “Talk About It.”

Through “Talk About It,” students will be able to report bullying, drug use and fights to a counselor, principal, teacher or coach.

“They get to choose who to contact,” Snyder said, adding that contact is anonymous.

The program is in place to help students talk about things they might not otherwise feel comfortable reporting. Snyder said the school system also hopes “Talk About It” will encourage discussion about teen pregnancy and depression if students find themselves in less than positive situations.

And the app is tied directly to the Pike County Schools website. When information is changed there, the app auto updates.

Local businesses can even show their support of Pike County Schools through purchasing an advertisement that will circulate to app users after a designated amount of clicks. Money from those advertisements will go toward future technology goals for the school system.

“We’re excited about this,” Snyder said. “It’s dynamic. And information is readily available at your fingertips.”