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CALUMET CITY | Students and parents in Thornton Fractional High School District 215 have a new way to access grades, anonymously report bullying, acquire electronic IDs and hall passes and more with an update on the district's smartphone app.

The Thornton Fractional District 215 app, available in both the Google Play Store for Android users and on iTunes, was introduced about a year ago, said Wale Ade, director of information technology. But a recent update to the app expanded it's capabilities significantly.

Teachers can now send individual push notifications to their classes and parents who have enabled the feature on their device. This can include reminders about tests or homework or even school closings.

Parents can use the app to access their children's grades and attendance via their login to the district's Power School feature. Students can download assignments and see test scores.

Superintendent Creg Williams said in the last survey done, almost 90 percent of district students have cellphones.

"In keeping up with the 21st century, (the app) just makes sense," said Iyana Mason, a district communications specialist. "So many of our students have mobile devices, (the app allows us) to be able to reach them with updated information."

Students can anonymously report bullies via the app's tipline, which sends the tip directly to district administrators. The app also can be used to generate an electronic ID or hall pass, saving the district money on printing.

Everything available on the district's website also is available on the app.

The app can also be translated into multiple languages, which Mason said was beneficial because the district's Spanish-speaking population is growing.

"There's some very powerful stuff in there," Williams said. "It's a very quick way to access information (for parents) on what's happening with their individual child and the child can access it."

The app was built in conjunction with a company called School Info App at a cost of about $1,500 annually, but the district seeks out sponsorships and actually earns money — about $5,000, in total. The app is a free download.

The app had been downloaded 2,145 times, as of Thursday afternoon. The district has no way to know what portion of those downloads are Thornton Fractional North or South students, parents or staff.


Night Editor

Jeanette is a journalist with The Times Media Co. who has worked as both a reporter and editor. She has a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield.