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Here's Why Some Families Were Asked to Print Their Own School Registration Forms

In the end, it saves the district almost $6,800, which can be directed to the classrooms. The district is looking for parent feedback.

Two high schools tried a new approach to distributing registration packets for families this year.

And as the registration period ends, school district leaders are looking for parent feedback on the changes.

The change was designed to save the school district money, which will then be put back into the classrooms, school leaders said.

What changed?

In the past, parent volunteers copied and collated between 20 and 25 pages of back-to-school and registration information for high school families. The packets each cost 31 cents to print and $1.80 to mail.

This year, students at and were sent a link to an online registration packet that allowed families to print — themselves — only what they needed. 

In the end, it saved the district 80,000 sheets of paper and $6,752 in printing and mailing costs for the 3,200 students at those two schools, according to school leaders.

"In an effort to reduce cost and paper consumption, the high schools followed the lead of many banks, service providers and credit card companies who now offer the opportunity to read statements online and only print what is needed," said Debbi Hartman, the district's community relations manager, in a statement.

"All the information in the registration packet, including instructions and forms, was posted online as separate pdf files. Parents were informed via the district’s SchoolMessenger email system that the registration packets could be accessed at their convenience."

In some instances, forms that were required by all students were also emailed via SchoolMessenger, the district’s parent email notification system, Hartman said.

The online registration pilot encountered a small problem in mid-August when the district website began unexpectedly preventing the pdf files from being opened; the district’s technology department corrected the error, and parents were notified that the files were once again accessible.

Hartman said Rochester Community Schools is committed to reducing both the amount of paper that the district uses and the costs associated with printing and mailing. 

"Any money the district saves on non-instructional items can be directed to the classroom, which reflects the district’s budget prioritization," Hartman said.

Feedback requested

What do you think? Rochester Community Schools welcomes parent and student feedback on this pilot program. Was it easy to read online and print? Would you prefer to have the packet mailed?

Kari Williams September 06, 2012 at 11:31 AM
Loved it!!! As one of six (or less) parents that has spent hours upon hours up at RHS collating those packets over the past few years, I was thrilled to receive the packet online. Plus I only printed what I needed and had the option to pay for several things online without ever printing. There were definitely some bugs to be worked out but nothing that can not be resolved.
Mimi D September 06, 2012 at 12:16 PM
I had absolutely no problem with printing the forms required HOWEVER, the lack of clear instruction was very frustrating. The original note sent home to RHS parents did not say anything about online forms being available so for us "seasoned" parents, I wondered where the rest of the packet was. I also found it extremely frustrating that the times for the freshman orientation were not consistent. Depending on what you were looking at, the times were different. It is very difficult to send your child to school prepared if you don't know what to prepare for.
Linda September 06, 2012 at 12:58 PM
If Stoney Creek follows this plan next year I will be very happy to do the printing at home. I think it's a wonderful idea that should be phased in at all RCS schools over the next couple of years. The only families that should receive registration packets in the mail are those without internet access or the ability to print the forms at home.
Renee Delsignore September 06, 2012 at 01:30 PM
I would have loved it.. Stoney Creek still sent out the packets to everyone.
Steve September 06, 2012 at 01:35 PM
As Registrar at OU, and having a daughter in RCS, I support these initiatives. We do the very same here.
Julie S September 06, 2012 at 01:38 PM
It is a much better way to go, but the district shouldn't promote it as a cost savings, they are shifting the cost to the parents who now need to use their printer/toner/paper, etc. Overally it is much more convenient. Need to hear the other side from those working registration tables, if it it made it easier or harder as far as who showed up with what completed--or did it take longer to find the missing forms.
Michele September 06, 2012 at 02:46 PM
While I don't have a high schooler, I would welcome the opportunity to be able to update the student ID form for each of my three kids that comes home each year. Most times this form doesn't need updating, so it seems wasteful to have this printed out vs being able to update online. Any reduction in the amount of paper that comes home that can be filed electronically is a plus!
Kristin Bull (Editor) September 06, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Do you mean the emergency contact form? Good point. How do others feel about @Michele's idea to make changes to that form online?
Sue Barnes September 06, 2012 at 05:41 PM
I understand the savings for the school, but it is an additional cost to the families. Does every family have access to a printer? Who determined which parents had to print all the information out? The District or the School? In the future if they continue to do this, it would be nice if the forms were in black and white. For example, the picture form from Kaiser was many colors, it took a lot of ink and time to print. An easy to read, one ink color would be helpful. The instructions we recieved said that all forms could be accessed at the District website. It was not quite that easy. From the District site, you had to get to the school and then figure out where on the school site it was. For Adams, you had to scroll to the very bottom and it was under the "File Folders". The letter should have directed you exactly where to find them. I wonder if the Booster Clubs or PTSA noticed any decline in their membership because of parents having to print out the membership forms. I know that we only printed out the forms that we absolutely had to have.
Tiffany Dziurman Stozicki September 06, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Some Rochester PTA members have mentioned a decline in memberships when tranferring to an all online system. This is a constant debate -- paper or paperless. The problems are that emails get missed, pushed down the email thread, etc. Many are working on mobile devices like iPads and phones which are not conveniently hooked up to a printer. I agree with Sue that it's a bit much to make parents/guardians print a four color brochure with lots of images on it like the school photo form from Kaiser. That would take up most if not all one full ink cartridge easily. This is a transition we are all going through now and it's going to take time to work out the kinks. I believe if it's going to be online then allow the forms to be filled out online and payment processed online in one easy visit. Don't make parents print out every form, that's not truly paperless or green in my opinion. The schools also have to make a computer and printer available for those who don't have computer/online access or printers at home. Also, I've heard from many that they like a paper copy in their hands to put on the fridge as a reminder, etc. Again, it's a transition and it's going to take time. We've been online and dealing with computers for a long time, but we are changing the way we use them and have to find solutions.
Mary Purcell, Keller Williams September 06, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Great! I hope the cost savings goes to the classrooms and programs for students as mentioned.
Lesa Woods September 06, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Unfortunately the money will go to pay raises for the upper administrators.
Kristin Bull (Editor) September 06, 2012 at 07:41 PM
What makes you think that, @Lesa?
Anne Mleczek September 07, 2012 at 03:47 AM
I was happy to print out our own forms, but my child's school promoted it as a "green" initiative, when in reality, it was a cost shift from the schools to the parents. It's not a big deal to me, but let's be honest when stating the reasons for change. I also agree with another commenter about being concerned for families without a printer or internet access. I worry that we are leaving some families out in the cold; lack of a home printer should not be an educational hurdle.
Sandra September 07, 2012 at 10:42 PM
You have the option on your printer to print black & white don't you??
Sandra September 07, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Again- printers print in black & white too! I was able to print only the order page and not the page with the graphics- maybe try that next time?
Sandra September 07, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Love the idea of printing what you need to submit! It saves so many trees! However, I may lose some rewards points for having a lighter recycle can- lol

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