Start of school forms move online


Bryan Wang

The conversion of the start-of-school documents to online form was a decision long overdue for a school in the Silicon Valley. Photo illustration by Smitha Gundavajhala.

The start of school forms are online this year, as opposed to being sent home in the mail in a fat packet. On the surface, this change is far from momentous. Students simply printed out the forms themselves and tried not to cry about the five extra seconds wasted. But what few realize is how significant the change has been for administration and the environment. It takes a tremendous amount of volunteer work to assemble an envelope for every single MVHS student. And about forty mail bins of paper. The change this year eliminated the need for all that.

But why make the change this year? Athletic forms and other documents have been on the school website for years, so the start of school forms hassle could have been avoided a long time ago. It turns out that the issue was largely a legal problem. Every year, the school is mandated to send out an “Annual Notification of Parent/Student Rights and Responsibilities” in the mail.

This year, the district office lawyers looked through legal protocol and have determined that it is just as legal to put this packet online as it is to send it in the mail. The purpose of sending the packet in the mail was to make this valuable legal information accessible to all students. But we’ve entered an age where internet and computer access is ubiquitous not only in our private lives, but in public places as well like libraries and schools. Putting the packet online is synonymous to mailing it to every student.

Following the district’s lead, MVHS put up most of its other start of school forms online. This whole experience was another example of how the legal system changes too slowly to accommodate rapid changes in technology. But the administration foresees no other legal quandaries involving the website, and plans to digitize more forms and processes, such as paying for PTSA membership. Not only is the school heading in a more streamlined, sustainable direction, but students are also benefiting from more accessible and organized information.

It’s going to take a little time to get used to printing forms out from the website, but this change is minor compared to other web-based changes like Schoolloop or Naviance. And in addition to providing forms, the webpage boasts a Student Activities/ Clubs section. Here students can access the flyers of clubs or activities that catch their eye while picking up forms. This is an easy way for students to find out about interesting clubs, and a perfect way for clubs to advertise – without wasting the effort and paper to print up flyers. Because many students visit the start of school forms page to pick up forms, it is a great place to advertise and something that more clubs should consider.