Parents with students returning to Riverside Elementary School District 96 in 2016-17 will be able to register their children without ever setting foot in a school or district office. Starting next year, District 96 is switching to online registration.

The district will pay a company called InfoSnap $12,600 next year to manage its online registration. The cost includes a one-time set up fee of $4,200 and a recurring annual fee of $8,400.

Proof of residency will be still be required, but parents of returning students will be able to scan the necessary documents as part of the online registration process.

More and more school districts are switching to online registration.

“We’re behind the curve, not ahead of the curve on this,” said District 96 Co-Interim Superintendent Griff Powell.

The district is also changing its kindergarten registration procedures in an attempt to get parents to sign up their kindergarten students earlier than in the past. The district will have a meeting for parents sometime in February to inform them of the new procedures. 

“We will have a large meeting at Hauser in the auditorium with all the principals and the kindergarten teachers,” Powell said. 

Part of the kindergarten registration can be done online, but families of kindergarten students and families new to the district will still have to provide proof of residency in person.

“Rather than sitting and filling out all the information like they have done by hand here, they’ll be able to do it online and simply come in, show a birth certificate and proof of residence and they’re done,” Powell said.

The district will offer a 40-percent discount on fees to those who register for kindergarten during an early registration period running from Feb. 15, 2016 until April 15, 2016. The discount will reduce the registration fee from $70 to $42. 

Regular registration for kindergarten is slated to run from April 15 to June 15. Those who register a child for kindergarten after June 15, except for people with special hardships or those who move into district after June 15, will have to pay a 20-percent penalty.

The goal of these incentives is the avoid a situation like this year, when some parents did not know which school their kindergartener would be attending until shortly before school began. 

“We need those numbers early in order to make the right decisions for staffing,” Powell said. “By April 15 we have to know our staffing.”

Powell said parents will be informed whether their kindergarteners will be assigned to morning or afternoon kindergarten during the first week of August.

Another change next year is that parents of incoming kindergarteners will complete registration at the district office rather than at individual schools. The move was made to discourage the notion that parents have a right to have their kindergartener attend a specific school. 

This year, some kindergarten students who live in Ames attendance area had to go to other schools because there was not enough classroom space at Ames for them.