The first official day of enrollment at Wichita schools went smoothly, district officials said, although the wait at some schools was two hours or more.
“We ask parents to continue to be patient with us, and know that the challenges we’re facing this year are one-year growing pains,” spokeswoman Wendy Johnson said via e-mail Monday afternoon.
The state’s largest school district is going old-school with enrollment this year, requiring parents to visit each child’s school to enroll and pay fees in person rather than online as it launches a new computerized student information system.
Officials warned families that the enrollment process could take much longer than previous years. So far, “parents have been pretty positive” as administrators dealt with hiccups and bottlenecks, Johnson said.
East High School, the district’s largest school, reported waiting times ranging from 30 minutes to three hours Monday.
Lynette Murphy spent about two hours enrolling her daughter Mattie, a senior at East. Most of the time was spent in a line on the gymnasium’s walking track, where students waited to get class schedules, pay fees and get their photo IDs.
“I thought it was well organized,” Murphy said. “I felt bad for some of the teachers and administrators because we have to deal with this new system, and I understand that.
“I think we have to put up with this year of transition, and next year it should go smoother, I hope.”
District officials hope so, too. In the meantime, they’re suggesting that parents visit the district’s enrollment site – enroll.usd259.org – to complete and print out forms ahead of time.
“That will expedite the process significantly,” Johnson said.
Parents also should bring something that verifies their home address, such as a rental receipt, lease agreement, gas/electric bill or mortgage payment stub. At the high school level, proof of address may be presented only in the form of a utility bill.
Enrollment at Wichita schools will continue from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday and noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. On Monday, families arriving at East High by 3 p.m. were allowed to enroll, even though the process at the time was taking more than an hour.
The new information system, Synergy, was online and seemed to be working well Monday. Parents who enrolled received an activation key to establish and set up their ParentVUE accounts.
The school board voted earlier this year to spend about $1 million on the new Synergy system, a product of California-based Edupoint. The system’s ParentVUE application will allow parents to access their children’s grades, assignments, calendars and other data online.
“We will be excited to roll out a number of new features later this fall that will allow parents and staff to see the benefits of this new system,” Johnson said. “We just have to make this transition before we can do so.”
Murphy, the East High parent, said she planned to enroll her younger son at his elementary school Tuesday.
“I went in with the expectation of waiting, and that helped,” she said.
She chuckled, though, when she saw that the bottom of her receipt from East said, “Go Blue Bears! Show your spirit, support your team!”
East High’s mascot is the Blue Aces.
“Not sure what that’s about,” Murphy said. “A little glitch, I guess.”