Tallmadge -- Community groups that wish to use any of six city school district buildings soon will be able to check availability for and reserve them online.
In order to improve the process for managing spaces available for public use -- typically the high school, middle school, two elementary schools, administrative building and the David Bacon Building -- the school district plans to offer a web-based software system called FSDirect, a program by SchoolDude, by next month.
Steve Wood, director of business for the school district, said the current space management system is "archaic," "inefficient, prone to error and not as user-friendly to the community."
"We presently rely on a paper-based system. If a community member is interested in using a space, they complete a written building permit form requesting a date and space, which is then circulated to the appropriate personnel for approval," he said. "If the room that they hope to use was unavailable, the process would have to start over again with a new proposed date."
Wood said although he expects most of the groups who use school facilities to reserve them online when the paper system is discontinued, those who don't have online access or don't want to use the new system can reserve spaces by phone.
Nonschool groups that frequently use school facilities include the Boy and Girl Scouts, youth sports, League of Women Voters, churches and theatre groups.
"With FSDirect, a community member will be able to look online to see if a space is available for use on a desired date," Wood said. "If available, they apply online to use the space. The online application is circulated electronically and approved. That event is then blocked out on the calendar. Again, easy straightforward for community to reserve space, efficient for staff to approve, and a common calendar to prevent over-scheduling."
Groups will be able to use the system for free, but the school district will pay less than $2,000 per year to subscribe to FSDirect. The subscription can be canceled at any time, Wood said.
Users also will be able to check the capacity of a space, as well as request a setup configuration and equipment.
Hudson City and Revere Local school districts use the service, Wood said.
Nonschool groups will be able to see which spaces are available but won't be privy to who's using which spaces or for what.
The school district will approve public groups before they can use the system, and each will be required to have the appropriate insurance to use school facilities, Wood said.