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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/STATON BREIDENTHAL --8/10/18-- Kindergarten teacher Angela Sewell distributes notebooks for students Friday as she prepares for the beginning of the school year at Seventh Street Elementary School in North Little Rock. Classes in the Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special school districts begin Monday. - Photo by Staton Breidenthal

Little Rock School District employees are working through the weekend to clear a backlog of online student registrants in order to assign several thousand students to schools and classrooms for the coming school year, which starts Monday.

As that student online registration information is uploaded into the district's online systems, the families will be notified of their children's school assignments, Frederick Fields, the district's senior director of student registration, said Friday night.

School information

Back-to-school information for the four Pulaski County school districts:

LITTLE ROCK

Main number: (501) 447-1000. Website: www.lrsd.org Facebook: www.facebook.com/ mylrsd Twitter: @lrsd

OTHER NUMBERS

Student registration and school assignments: 447-2950. Before- and after-school child care program: 447-1880. Safety and security: 447-2075.

TRANSPORTATION

Main number and special education: 447-7550; First Student Inc.: 447-4165 or 447-4130.

MEAL PRICES

Breakfast: Students $2; Reduced price $0.30; Adults $2.50. Lunch: Elementary students, $2.85; Secondary students, $3; Reduced price $0.40; adults, $3.75; milk, $0.40.

NORTH LITTLE ROCK

Main number: (501) 771-8000. Website: nlrsd.org Facebook: North Little Rock School District Twitter: @nlrsd

OTHER NUMBERS

Student registration and school assignments: 771-8050.

TRANSPORTATION

Main number: 340-5151. A link to details on bus routes and stops is at the bottom of the website’s home page.

MEAL PRICES

Elementary breakfast and lunch: All meals provided at no cost; breakfast is between 7:20 a.m. and 7:50 a.m. Secondary breakfast: $1.50 for students and $3 for adults; secondary lunch, $3 for students and $3.75 for adults; milk: $0.45.

PULASKI COUNTY SPECIAL

Main number: (501) 234-2000. Website: www.pcssd.org Facebook: www.facebook.com/ pcssdschools Twitter:@pcssdschools

OTHER NUMBERS

Student registration and school assignments: 234-2021.

TRANSPORTATION

West: 821-4463; Northwest: 234-2950; South: 234-2915.

MEAL PRICES

Grade level: Breakfast for all students $2; elementary student lunch, $3; secondary student lunch, $3.25.

EXTENDED CARE

Baker, Chenal, Clinton, Crystal Hill and Joe T. Robinson elementaries offer, for a fee, an extended-care after-school program to the families that they serve. Information is available at the schools.

JACKSONVILLE/

NORTH PULASKI

Main number: (501) 241-2080 Website: jnpsd.org Facebook: www.facebook.com/ jnpsd Twitter: @JNPSD1

OTHER NUMBERS

Student registration and school assignments: 241-2080

TRANSPORTATION

Main number: 241-2163. Information about school bus transportation is available at student’s school.

MEAL PRICES

All student meals are provided at no cost.

If families don't receive weekend calls, students should go to their attendance zone schools Monday or to the schools assigned to them in district letters sent last February -- if those are different schools from their attendance zone schools, Fields said.

The 2018-19 school year starts Monday for most of Arkansas' traditional public school districts, including the four districts in Pulaski County and some of the independently run public charter schools that did not choose to open earlier in the summer.

In the Little Rock district, the state's largest system with about 24,000 students in pre-kindergarten-through-12th grades, all schools will welcome students and parents Monday, Fields said. All schools will be able to provide parents with access to computers to complete the mandatory online registration process if they have not done that before Monday.

Parents of students who are new, or are returning to the district and have not completed the online check-in process, can do so by clicking on the "Registration" icon -- a picture of a schoolhouse and a magnifying glass -- on the district's website: lrsd.org. Once a parent is on the district's Student Registration page, the link to the actual registration portal is at the top of the column on the right.

After the online process is complete, a parent will receive a message that the registration is "pending," which is an indication that the child's information will be uploaded and become a part of the student's permanent record at the school.

Parents can access the Gateway Online Registration portal by cellphone or by computer.

The district has used social media and automated phone calls to alert parents about the mandatory online registration and about the backlog in processing some of the information, Pamela Smith, the district's director of communications, said Friday.

As of Friday, the district had processed and assigned to schools 17,479 students through the Gateway system, Fields said, which is several thousand students short of the district's anticipated total enrollment for the coming year.

At issue is the district's use for the first time of the Gateway system in conjunction with the state-required electronic student records management system commonly referred to as eSchool.

Fields said the eSchool system was updated this summer and that conversion to the updated system took longer than anticipated. And the newly updated eSchool system did not initially include a means that allowed the Gateway Online Registration to function properly, Fields said.

The Gateway student registration system was down from the spring until late July. As a result, student information couldn't be loaded into either the Gateway or the eSchool systems, he said. That created major backlogs, he said.

"Anyone who came into the Little Rock School District's student registration office and registered during that spring-to-July window -- their paperwork could not be loaded into Gateway or ­eSchool," he said.

A fix was ultimately found that allowed the systems to connect.

The systems are now working but the Gateway system can process only a certain number of student files per hour, he said. Information must be processed by the Gateway system before it is pushed into the eSchool system to assign a student to a school. That is not an immediate process, Fields said.

Once the student information is in the eSchool system, master schedules for the different schools can be created and student assignments to specific schools, classrooms and courses can be made.

The Gateway Online Registration has been adopted by the Pulaski County Special and North Little Rock school districts as well as the Little Rock district, all of which are following the lead of the Conway School District that adopted it earlier.

"It's a very good tool, an excellent tool," Fields said about Gateway. "It makes it easy for parents who can do the registration at their homes on their smartphones."

The problem for the districts was marrying the Gateway and updated eSchool systems, he said. And for the Little Rock district, the problems have been compounded by the size of the school system. Districts with smaller enrollments were able to more easily do the registration manually. The Little Rock district attempted to do that as a backup, as well, Fields said, but was dealing with an extensive number of student files.

"It's crucial that the public know that the Little Rock district was not the only district affected," he said.

Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key, who acts as the school board in the state-controlled Little Rock district, said Saturday that he and his staff were aware of the electronic systems issues, and he confirmed that several districts are affected in addition to the Little Rock system.

The Arkansas Public School Computer Network team of the Education Department has been working closely with district staff members, the Arkansas Department of Information Systems, and the software vendors to resolve the problems, Key said.

"EDchool is the statewide student records management system, and it is mandated as a part of the Arkansas Public School Computer Network," he said. "When changes are made to the core systems of eSchool, there can be ripple effects to the connecting systems" such as the online student registration system.

School districts may, but are not required, to select third-party registration software, he also said.

Metro on 08/12/2018

Print Headline: Student assignments a beat-the-clock rush

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