Briggs Freeman Underwrites District’s App

The app will look something like this.

The app will look something like this.

Among the gifts approved by the Highland Park ISD Board of Trustees at Tuesday’s meeting was $11,000 from our friends at Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty, which is underwriting development of the school district’s mobile app.

District spokeswoman Helen Williams said development of the app is being done by a Virginia-based company called Willow Tree Apps, at a cost of $42,000. The district got things started last August by paying the firm $13,000, but Briggs Freeman is paying the bulk of the cost. The $11,000 approved Tuesday was just a portion of the real-estate brokerage’s $26,000 commitment, which is being paid in installments. The district will pay the remaining $3,000, with the goal of launching the app by the start of the 2014-15 school year.

The app, which will be free to HPISD parents, will interface with Skyward Family Access, a comprehensive student-management system that allows parents to track grades and attendance, input medical information, and pay for food in cafeterias, among other tasks. The app will also provide access to school calendars, faculty directories, and the district’s e-newsletter.

“We really want parents to know what’s going on with their kids,” Williams said.

Williams said she and her staff shopped around before signing on with Willow Tree; they even looked at some free apps, but decided they weren’t up to Highland Park ISD’s standards.

“You can get a free app,” Williams said, “but it just doesn’t do anything.”

Click through for a summary of the other gifts approved Tuesday:

The Armstrong Bradfield Preschool Association gave $39,000 to Bradfield Elementary School. It will go toward $24,400 worth of instructional supplies, $10,000 worth of supplemental pay for a math tutor, and $4,600 worth of miscellaneous expenses, including professional development, speakers, and furniture.

Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty donated $3,200 to refurbish the scoreboards in the four elementary schools’ gymnasiums.

Benchmark Bank donated $1,000 for general expenses related to the district’s centennial celebration.

The Highland Park Education Foundation donated $3,750 to the Best Buddies program and $2,000 to the Academic Decathlon program. The latter also received $1,000 from the Academic Scots Booster Club to cover expenses related to the state meet.

Hyer Elementary received a $1,000 gift from an anonymous donor to pay for staff development.

Jeffrey Olyan wrote a $500 check to pay for the care of animals in the Armstrong Elementary science lab.

By Dan Koller Mar. 21, 2014 | 4:22 pm | 6 Comments | Comments RSS
6 comments to "Briggs Freeman Underwrites District's App"
  1. 1st anon @ March 21, 2014 at 8:51 pm
    That’s nice of Briggs-Freeman to pay the partial cost But let’s look at what the district did. They will have paid $15,000 (which = $75K in your collected taxes) for an app that does what exactly?? They are already paying for Skyward, which provides a very nice Skyward app. So all they did (seemingly) was convert the district’s web site to an app. They might have looked at free apps, but did they ask the real question: “do you even need an app for that?”. Let’s see if they actually provide some stats a year from now … how many people download this app? How many of those then actually use it? I’ll bet it’s maybe 500 people, which will equal $150 per user.

  2. 2nd that @ March 21, 2014 at 10:41 pm
    @1st anon is exactly right. But perhaps the app will earn a “National Communications Award”. We all know how important an award-winning communications department is to our children’s education.

  3. really @ March 22, 2014 at 7:56 pm
    $15k = $45-50k. We are not losing 80% to robin hood.

  4. Dave @ March 23, 2014 at 12:47 pm
    For something as simple as they are describing, the HPHS students could have developed it as a project. At a minimum, why not hire a local company to do the development?

  5. 1st anon @ March 23, 2014 at 2:10 pm
    @really is correct. A search says that Robin Hood takes 68%. The district, with Briggs-Freeman’s donation will have spent $42,000 of district+realtor money. The district will collect $50K in your taxes to pay for this app. And the district’s communications department has the nerve to say: “will be free to HPISD parents”.

    Let’s go back and look at that $42K that they are spending. What could the district have better used that money for? Oh, how about another teacher?!? Entry level teacher salary is $46,750. How about bonuses to our existing teachers? An end-of-year check for $1K to the Top 42 teachers. Or: the parents have worked hard for the Armstrong, Bradfield, and UP new outdoor play areas. You could have had the Briggs-Freeman Memorial Play Court.

    I don’t mind the district spending the money for things like teachers, supplies, building maintenance, books, and useful technology.

    But really, an app that does nothing but repurpose the HPISD web site?

    And while I’m on a rolling rant here: The communications department couldn’t find a Dallas-based technology company to do the work? Really?? You had to go to a Virginia-based company? Here, let me help: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=app+developer+Dallas%2C+Texas

    Even better, I’d bet that one of the senior technology kids could use that $42K for college.

    Or, even easier, just convert the entire hpisd.org web site to wordpress, which includes (almost free) all the mobile formats needed.

    Trustees …. reign in your spenders.

  6. G @ March 25, 2014 at 2:43 pm
    I will be happy to pay for the darn app as long as it doesn’t make me enter a crazy user name no one could ever remember!!! I also find skyward hard to maneuver.

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