Otsego Public Schools launches new app for parents

OTSEGO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - When school bells ring this fall in Allegan County, parents and students will be reaching for their phones for the latest information.

On Friday, Otsego Public Schools unveiled a new app for smartphones and tablets.

The district says everything parents need to know will now be available at their fingertips.

Newschannel 3 took a look at what the app does, and what residents can expect.

Otsego says it's the first school district in West Michigan to use a tool like this to reach parents.

"I think we need to keep up with the times, we need to find where parents are, where the community members are," said Otsego Schools Communications Director Holly McCaw.

Right now, they're on their phones, using a variety of mobile applications.

McCaw says the new app for the district has been in the making for months.

It launched this week, and it now available for download to smartphones and tablets.

"There's some on the east side of the state, but as far as I know, we're the first in this area," she said.

Taking a spin around the app reveals dozens of features, including a calendar of school events that can sync to your own personal schedule.

"That's going to be a huge feature as far as parents keeping up on what's happening at schools," McCaw said.

Getting paper notices home can sometimes prove tricky, so there's a message feature that will be handy in an emergency.

"Any time we have school closings, school delays, or important messages, we'll push those out and put them in the notifications," McCaw said.

There's also a news feed, pulling the latest from the web and social media.

"Maybe someone takes a cool picture at a football game, or at the band concert, or whatever that might be, you can submit that photo and send it in," said McCaw.

Parents can also browse school lunches and put money in their kids' accounts.

"The website isn't going away, the newsletters aren't going away, sending things home isn't going away either," McCaw explained. "This is just providing another tool to keep them informed."

The district say sthere could be some bugs at first, but everything should be ironed out by the time school starts up September 2.