Ashland City Schools building

ASHLAND — Ashland City Schools is developing a district-wide mobile app for students, teachers, parents and community members after seeing success from the same app geared for the high school.

Ben Spieldenner, the district’s director of tech integration and innovation, said he’d like the app to be available for download by January, after winter break.

“We’re trying to make communication and information about the district as accessible as possible to students, staff, parents and the community members,” he said. “There’s a lot of information on the website, but if this makes it easier to access, that’s what we want to do.”

School districts everywhere face a common challenge: engaging with an ever-increasingly busy parent of a student.

The barriers are many — lack of access to technology, language and cultural differences and hours of availability.

Teachers and administrators also have more than 200 places in federal law where they are required to notify or contact a parent, according to TransACT, a company that guides educators with software and expertise to manage federal and state-level compliance, communication, and operations more efficiently.

Spieldenner said there are currently around 3,100 active users for the high school’s app that was first launched around 2017 or 2018. The director of tech integration said the high school app has done so well that it’s just “part of the school’s fabric now.”

He said the goal for the district-wide app will be similar to what the high school app has turned into.

Spieldenner said the app, supported by School Info, was first developed for the high school as an alternative to printed planners. It offers announcements on upcoming athletic events, parent-teacher conferences, daily lunch menus, a staff directory and other helpful information also found on the school’s website.

“It’s been a good way to get communication out,” Spieldenner said. “It’s a quick resource that people can use instead of using the website.”

Mobile web traffic in the U.S. continues to grow, overtaking visitors from desktops. Statcounter, a website that tracks global online behavior, shows only 2.9% of internet users accessed it through their phones in 2010.

A decade later, that number has skyrocketed to more than half of users — meaning the majority of people logging into the internet happen on phones and other mobile devices.

“A mobile first strategy focuses on providing the best experience on the smallest screens, taking advantage of all the features and functionality available on mobile devices,” reads School Info’s website.

The district-wide app will cost the district $5,516 per year under a three-year agreement, said Treasurer Kyle Klingler. The cost covers development and upkeep by School Info App, but Spieldenner said he will work to customize it for each building.

Publishing information onto the new, district-wide app will be Spieldenner’s role for a while, but only until he trains other staff members at each building to do it, he said.

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