October 18, 2011

FOR RELEASE: October 18, 2011

Contact: Shelly Hickman, (405) 366-3523 or (405) 397-4030



Norman Launches State's First K-12 Mobile App;

Believes First District in Nation to Have App With Certain Features*

 NORMAN, Okla. - Norman Public Schools today launched what is Oklahoma's first school district mobile app.

While there are a handful of school districts across the nation that have a mobile app, NPS officials believe Norman is the first* school district in the nation to provide a mobile app that has all of the following features:

        ·         Developed for both Apple and Android mobile devices;

        ·         Developed, maintained and hosted at no cost to the district

        ·         Push notification from the district and individual schools;

        ·         Free downloads

"We live in a mobile society. Utilizing platforms that people prefer and are ease with is critical to effective public engagement," Norman superintendent Dr. Joe Siano said, noting the app will enhance communication not just with parents and students, but the entire Norman community and well outside the community, too. “Anyone and everyone can subscribe to this app for free - parents who are stationed abroad, grandparents, business owners, civic leaders, political leaders. We hope everyone who hears about this app is compelled to download it, positioning Norman to engage and interact at the local, state and national level."

 Features on the NPS app include Push messages from the district, with users also able to subscribe to Push from any school site; GPS technology from any user's location to any Norman school; school lunch menus; achievement reports; direct access to Parent Portal to check students' grades; Google calendars for the district and individual schools; social media channels; athletic and activities information, 'Tap' screens to email all staff, 'Tap' to email and/or phone district administrators and board of education members…and much more.

 The district aims to create awareness for the app and generate downloads by announcing its availability through its phone and email notification system, social media channels, posters in schools and business storefronts, athletic and fine arts events, electronic signatures, civic presentations and inclusion in any regularly printed materials.

 Siano said NPS partnered on the app with School Connect, a Norman-based company within the Norman Economic Development Coalition's eTec business accelerator program. The company specializes in K-12 app development and already is at work to launch free apps for several other Oklahoma school districts, including Oklahoma City, Moore, Midwest City-Del City, Bixby, Tahlequah and others.

 Siano said he had no reservations about bringing the app to the public through a partnership and school-friendly sponsorships. School budgets in Oklahoma have been cut about 18 percent since the recession and diverting dollars for mobile communications is neither an option nor appropriate. Yet, he said, public engagement in schools has never been more critical.

 "One of the keys to engaging and being transparent to a 24-7 public is communicating and reporting where people are - and where they are is mobile," Siano said. "We could continue to post school board agendas on schoolhouse doors and Web sites, or we could Push them to citizens through mobile apps that also have Tap screens to instantly call or email us with their questions and feedback.”

“I’m very excited about the heightened level of engagement that platforms like this will inspire."

*Note: NPS made reasonable attempts to research the features of public K-12 district apps outside Oklahoma. If it has erred in this assertion, it regrets the unintentional oversight.

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