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School district launches ‘Peachjar’ program

December 27, 2018
By MEGHAN BRADBURY ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

The School District of Lee County has implemented a new way to send digital fliers directly to parents through a program, Peachjar, which will decrease paper use and copy costs throughout the district.

"I learned about Peachjar a couple of years ago when I was new to the position and attended a conference," Director of Communications Lauren Stillwell said. "For many years the district has offered community agencies the ability to send approved notices of events and information to our students, but approval has been a bit cumbersome. Peachjar gives us the ability to streamline the approval process, cut down on paper and copy costs and also lessen the administrative time that it took to distribute the fliers to each student. In addition, the company serves over 14,000 schools in 40 states including Florida."

The program did not cost the district a dime.

"We are excited to partner with Peachjar, as we believe this will further our commitment to family engagement by having a reliable way to send out information about school and community events," Stillwell said.

There were a few components of the program that attracted the district.

She said it filled a need for some community agencies, as they have been asked to send fliers electronically, rather than in paper form.

"In addition, this was a way to actively distribute, meaning that the fliers are sent right to people's email inboxes," Stillwell said. "It is also interactive. When parents view a flier they can register for an event right from their phone, or click on the flier to get more information. It also streamlined the approval process on our end. This solution is a greener option, and also one that our schools could use to send information home to parents."

She said in addition to the fliers being emailed, it is also posted to the district's website,

"Parents can access the fliers for their child's school by going to the school site and clicking on the Peachjar button on the homepage," Stillwell said.

Parents should have received a welcome email from Peachjar, which includes a username and password. This information is provided, so the parent can manage their account.

"There is no need to ever sign into Peachjar unless they want to change their delivery preferences, for example, how often they'd like to get the information emailed to them," Stillwell said. "To ensure smooth deliver we did ask that parents make sure that is added to their email contacts."

Parents will automatically receive a flier in their email inbox, and they can also visit the school's website occasionally to see what has been posted.

"When they go to the site they can sort the fliers by recently posted, upcoming events, school fliers first, meaning information from the school show at the top, and also by title," Stillwell said.

The option to send paper fliers is still available for principals if they feel it is needed and necessary.

The district's Communications Department will continue to handle the flier process.

"When an agency uploads a flier it is sent to our office, we review it to make sure it follows board policy and with the click of a button we can approve it or deny it. Either way the agency is notified," Stillwell said. "If the flier is denied we let them know why so they can fix it and re-upload it for approval."

Peachjar will remove a significant administrative burden from teachers, office staff and volunteers.

"The burden refers to the process that was used when paper fliers were approved. Agencies would have to bundle the fliers and deliver them to the school. Then, school staff would have to distribute them to teachers, who in turn would have to distribute them to their students. Some agencies would also go directly to the principals for approval, so this system takes the onus off of them by sending directly to us," Stillwell said.

With the Peachjar program in place, the district hopes that by receiving regular emails, parents will be more in tune with what's happening at the schools in the community.

"When paper fliers were distributed, there was no way of knowing if they made it home, were wadded up at the bottom of a backpack, or thrown away," she said. "In addition, having the ability to get more information with the touch of a button on your phone or computer, or register for an event immediately through the flier, we believe will be appealing to parents."

The district also has an app currently available in the App Store and Google Play under the School District of Lee County. Stillwell said the app has a blue background and the district's seal.

Although the district is still modifying the app, parents can get their students grades and attendance information, follow schools, download events from the school and district calendars right to their personal calendars, find bus routes, menus, report tips, get employment information and hit the district's social media sites.



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