Students in Greenville County Schools have been using an online program called “Backpack” for several years — it houses their grades, class schedules, teacher information, and more in an easily accessible online portal. Now, parents will get their own version of Backpack where they’ll be able to access information on their students in one place.
The district is rolling out a pilot of the program after spring break to test it and work through any issues before it is accessible to all schools this summer.
Parents will be able to access not only grades and class schedules, but also their students’ lunch accounts, district/school-level notifications, teacher contact information, disciplinary information, and driver pickup designees. Parents will be able to see their students’ progress toward graduation and their excused and unexcused absences, and eventually, they’ll be able to submit all of the paperwork required for enrollment at the beginning of the school year through the program.
Currently, parents must access that information through a variety of avenues — PowerSchool shows only their teachers and the grades those teachers put in the system, while the district has another system to track lunch money balances.
With Backpack, parents will be able to see ACT and SAT scores as well as how their children compare with other students in the district.
The system will also allow parents and students to apply to the district’s Fine Arts Center, career centers, and virtual school. Eventually, parents will be able to apply to magnet schools through the program, as well.
Jeff Miller, director of Information Technologies with the district, said the program is secure and confidential, and the primary goal is to give parents easier access to important information.
“This app is really a platform to grow with the district to help out the parents,” Miller said.
The program is being conducted in phases — parents with the initial pilot program access are part of Phase One, which will have only some of Backpack’s functions. Phase Two will send the PowerSchool portal for parents offline and allow all parents access to Backpack in the summer. By Phase Three, which is scheduled for October, parents will be able to upload enrollment documents and apply for magnet schools through Backpack.
Miller said the state Department of Education has asked about replicating the program for other districts.
“The state liked it so much they wanted to use it for other districts,” Miller said.