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School directories

10 years 11 months ago #164170 by gjcoram
Replied by gjcoram on topic Re:School directories
Our district did suggest providing us with the data -- they added a special box to the form asking if it was OK to share the info with the PTO. But then we'd have to wait for the district to enter the info.

I ended up adapting an open-source e-mail client to read Excel-compatible CSV files. So, with last year's directory in Excel, I exported it as CSV, then opened the mail program and had it read the family info. Then -- being an e-mail program -- it could send a message to each family asking if they had any updates. (It automatically updates the grade levels.)

If anyone else is interested, here's a link.
11 years 5 months ago - 11 years 5 months ago #162497 by JHB
Replied by JHB on topic Re:School directories
We used to file an open records request with the district and pay a $5 fee to get a list of all the students' contact information on a CD in Excel format. Getting email addresses may be doubtful, but you should be able to get name, parents, grade, physical address, phone.

The basic contact information is considered "directory" information under the federal law (FERPA) and not protected unless the individual family files a request to withhold in writing. It also includes some other details like what sports your child plays.

(Look at the student handbook or other information you get at the beginning of the year. This is a critical policy because they have to offer you the right to file a non-consent. In that policy will list what is considered "directory information" and available by request. "Request" meaning you file a form via the proper channels.)

This is a COMMON practice, not anything underhanded. When your kids gets to middle school and high school and you start receiving letters from tutoring services, band camps, college recruitment, drivers ed, SAT programs - that's how they get your info.

Note -even though the information was publicly available, we did send home notices before the directory was published, allowing families to opt out of having information printed.

In fact we got to the point where we created individual PTO form letters where we merged each child's information into a separate page (sorted/printed those by class) and sent home stating that was what would be published, it was for school family use only, if they wanted to add/change/restrict anything, mark form and return by deadline. We had about 500 kids, so that was 500 letters, but merging into Word makes it EASY and a ream of paper is cheap.
11 years 5 months ago #162483 by Mike Schoen
Replied by Mike Schoen on topic Re:School directories
Hi gjcoram,

By way of full disclosure, I am the owner of AtoZ Directories. I 100% agree with your assessment that your current system is not the most efficient use of your/ your volunteers time!

The school directory is highly valued by many parents and helps increase communication among your members. The AtoZ solution, however, is not simply an online/App directory. AtoZ software makes it much easier for you to create your print directory as well. Most of our clients still produce a print directory and the School Directory App is an added benefit!

There is obviously a cost to the software. We believe that by simplifying important tasks like directory creation, you can free up volunteer time and energy to focus on ideas and fundraisers that will make your decision an easy one!

Ultimately you need to decide if the product makes sense for your parent group and your school. Good luck with your due diligence!
11 years 5 months ago #162411 by gjcoram
School directories was created by gjcoram
How do you get the information for your school directory?

At our school, we used to send home a paper form to each family; they would have to fill it out and send it back, and then a PTO volunteer would have to type the information in to a spreadsheet or whatever. And the next year, we start all over again, which is a waste, since > 80% of the families are back in the next year.

I looked into A to Z directories (they advertise in PTO Today magazine), and I think they had an on-line system for people to enter their own info directly, but there was a per-family charge that seemed to add up to a pretty penny for a moderate sized school. And families at our school seem to really like the paper copy, rather than something on-line.
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