Huntsville City Schools introduces new district app

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Huntsville City Schools has an app available for download on Apple and Android devices. It is called HCS Connect.

District webmaster, Kevin Redmond, said the idea is to keep parents and staff informed about what's going on in the district.

"People may not have time to stop at a computer and pull up a website or look up information. And go to three or four different school websites," he said.

The app is designed to help. Through the app, people can contact the district, schedule notifications for important games and school events, and even watch videos including board meetings. Redmond said you can add multiple schools to the app so you can keep track of happenings at each one.

"It syncs up with the school websites and updates the app with events, things on the calendar so anything from an athletic event to report cards being due," Redmond said. "It's also going to sync up news articles, so anything that gets posted to the school website. You can even determine, 'I want to find out when the basketball games are and I want to know 10 days in advance.' So they can actually determine how far out in advance they want to get those notifications."

He and the ETV team, along with contracted developers that already work on the district's website, have been working on it for a while now.

"We first had the idea to develop a mobile app 1 1/2 to 2 years ago," he said. "We included parents, the community, through the PTA. We included school staff and district staff. We wanted to make sure everybody had some input on it to make sure it was going to be useful to them. It was absolutely a labor of love to make sure we got them what they needed."

The app is available now in the App Store and Google Play store and can be downloaded for use on phones and tablets. Redmond said it's free and upgrades are coming as they bring new versions online.

"We are going to have some software updates and will be looking for input," Redmond said. "We want to find out what kind of future tools we can have."

He said the app will ask for personal contact information upon registration, but they will not share that information.

"It is only used for notification purposes in the app. We never share any of the contact information collected within the app with an outside organization," he stated.

The district has already paid for the app's development. The district is in the middle of sorting out its finances following the discovery of an accounting error, but this app was paid for out of last year's budget according to a district spokesman.

You can find more information about HCS Connect here.

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