McCOOK, Nebraska -- It's magic -- computer magic. McCook, Nebraska, Public Schools can make thousands of phone calls in minutes, alerting parents to snow days or late starts, or, heaven forbid, an emergency or crisis.
But, before the messages and alerts can go out, parents must go on the schools' website -- mccookbison.org -- log in on "Infinite Campus" (upper right-hand side) and set up their phone numbers and email addresses in "Contact Preferences" (lower left-hand side).
Kim Korgan, student information system administrator and registrar for MPS, said that while MPS has used Infinite Campus since the 2007-2008 school year, "Contact Preferences" is new just this school year.
The Contact Preference site asks for household phone number, cell phone number (test message is available), work phone number and email address, and what type of message parents wish to receive.
* "Everyone should receive 'High Priority' messages," Korgan said. "These are snow days, late starts, a crisis ... an emergency."
* "General" is notification of meetings, or notices regarding individual buildings.
* Parents can receive messages from their student's teachers if the "Teacher" box is checked.
* Parents of high school students in particular are encouraged to check "Attendance" and "Behavior" for messages regarding their student's absences, truancy or behavior issues.
The phone alert system is especially important as winter weather approaches, and the possibility of calling off school or starting late becomes very real, Korgan said. "We're able to send messages early enough to get people notified before they get out their doors," she said. "We can make thousands of phone calls in a matter of minutes. We could never have done that before."
If parents have not received messages thus far this school year, Korgan strongly encourages them to log into Infinite Campus and double-check their contact preferences. To change or add a phone number, parents can "Request an Update" under "Household Information," and these changes will be verified by school officials.
Parents do not have to have a computer at home to receive messages, but they do have to use a computer to set up an Infinite Campus account, create user names and passwords and personalize their contact preferences. For assistance, contact Korgan at the high school (308) 345-5422, or individual building secretaries.
Korgan strongly encourages parents to set up an Infinite Campus account, with their own passwords, to be able to keep abreast of their child(ren)'s attendance and grades, and to know what's going on at their buildings and throughout the school system.
mccookbison.org is a secure website, Korgan said, and can't be "Googled" (on the computer search engine "Google") to find it. The website is maintained by McCook Senior High businesses classes.
Something new on the website is the ability to request transcripts. Korgan is pleased with the response to the transcripts menu item.
"I'm amazed at the number of requests -- five or six a week," she said.