No more frequent fliers

Published 11:43 pm Friday, November 20, 2015

No more permission slips, magically produced from the bottom of your kid’s backpack the night before a field trip.

No more learning about the PTA fundraiser the week after wrapping paper orders were due.

Come January, Suffolk Public Schools will stop sending papers and fliers home with students. Instead, parents will begin receiving digital fliers — electronic copies of the same documents — via email, thanks to a digital company called Peachjar.

Email newsletter signup

Next week, parents will receive an email from Peachjar that provides them with user names and passwords, said Suffolk Public Schools spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw. This will give parents the opportunity to manage their accounts and digital flier delivery preferences, such as setting delivery frequency dates.

Parents will also have the ability to opt out of getting emailed fliers if they want to, Bradshaw said.

Parents do not need to log in to Peachjar to receive or view the school’s digital fliers, Bradshaw said. They will be able to go to each school’s Peachjar webpage to see all school information, calendars, information from enrichment providers and school newsletters.

There is no cost to Suffolk Public Schools for Peachjar, Bradshaw said.

Peachjar will be used exclusively for the distribution of school-approved fliers and parents don’t have to worry that their email addresses would be shared or used for other purposes, she said.

The initiative is a win-win for the schools, Bradshaw said.

“It will save our schools tons of paper, reduce copy costs by thousands of dollars, and allow our staff to spend less time making copies and more time with students,” Bradshaw said. “This is part of our effort to reach more families, embrace technology, be more environmentally friendly and increase efficiency.”

For the most part, only school-sponsored information will be distributed by the school division’s Peachjar accounts, Bradshaw said.

Some information from community organizations will be posted if it promotes services or educational experiences for students or parents, Bradshaw said. School division leaders or, in some cases, principals, will make that call, and the post will include a disclaimer noting that Suffolk Public Schools is not endorsing or promoting the post’s contents.

Most people have access to the Internet, either via computers or smart phones, Bradshaw said. But the schools will also post printed copies in the offices and keep a handful available for any parents who don’t have online access.

Most parents already use technology to monitor their children’s progress in almost-real time, Bradshaw said. For several years, parents have been able to view grades, absenteeism and tardiness, she added.

“One of the main reasons we are doing this is to increase family engagement and allow community organizations to have another means to share their information,” she said.

Peachjar will not replace any direct communication between educators and parents, Bradshaw said.