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School apps proving popular in some SD communities

SIOUX FALLS (AP) — Mobile apps launched by South Dakota school districts large and small are proving popular with parents.

ParentLink has been downloaded by almost 4,000 people in Sioux Falls since it was launched in August, the Argus Leader reported. The app provides school district news and information, sports scores, an email directory for staff and even lunch menus. App users also can sign up to receive a message on their phone when the district puts out an alert.

John Gruber, parent of an elementary school-age daughter, said he likes the convenience of being able to look up through the app what food the school is serving that day, to see whether he needs to pack a lunch for his daughter.

"The best thing about it is all the information is in one place," he said.

Sioux Falls is a city of about 154,000 people. In Harrisburg, a city of about 4,100, the school district also has launched an app, with similar features. It has more than 1,000 users.

"For us here in Harrisburg, it's really important," said Cindy DeWandel, district library coordinator. "We don't have a large community, we don't have what you would consider a local paper, so for us to get information to our parents and to our community members, we wanted to be proactive and get this out there as one of the avenues we have for people, especially people on the go all the time."

In Sioux Falls, parents also can download other apps that enable them to deposit money into lunch accounts and to view grades, attendance and missing assignments.

"To have all that accessibility on my phone for me, the parent of two young kids ... just the communications from the schools on events, it's really, really handy to have that all on my phone," school board member Kate Parker said.