Families who are new to the area and need to enroll their children in the Jefferson City Public Schools are encouraged to drop by the district's Welcome Center, 315 E. Dunklin St.
The Welcome Center was launched in March 2012 to simplify student enrollment for families and school personnel.
"Families with more than one child used to have to go to each building and fill out the same paperwork multiple times," said Dawn Berhorst, assistant to the superintendent. "Now, it's a one-stop shop."
At the Welcome Center, staffers not only record the necessary enrollment information, parents also can learn more about the district's busing system and glean information about elective courses - like band, computers and public speaking - offered at the secondary level.
And parents who might be struggling financially can learn more about what safety-net resources, including free school supplies, may be available in the Jefferson City area.
The Welcome Center is open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Thursday; from 9 a.m.-noon Friday; or by appointment. New families can contact the Welcome Center by calling 659-3043.
In order to enroll their children, parents and guardians should bring: birth certificates, immunization records, photo IDs and two recently dated proofs of residency. To prove residency, families can use Section 8 housing contracts, fully executed real estate contracts, utility bills, landline phone bills, Division of Family Service documents, Social Services documents, Social Security Administration documents and paycheck stubs.
Enrollment forms can be found online at www.jcschools.us or picked up at the Welcome Center.
Part of the rationale for centralizing enrollment is that the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has increased reporting requirements for the schools. Berhorst said it also means that data is collected in a standard fashion, instead of being collected in slightly different ways at multiple buildings district-wide. For example, a secretary at one building might have a slightly different interpretation of what counts as proof of residency than his or her counterpart at another school.
In an effort to simplify registration for returning Jefferson City students, the district is offering an online option for families who have a Parent Portal through the Infinite Campus program. The program can be accessed at www.jcschools.us.
The deadline for registering online is July 10.
"It will greatly reduce time for back-to-school registration," Berhorst said. "Registering online is quick and easy."
Parents who don't yet have an account with Infinite Campus can obtain one by visiting the district's central office on Dunklin Street, filling out a form and presenting a photo ID card. During the school year - when the schools are open - they can accomplish the same thing by visiting their child's building.
Berhorst said without all the paperwork to turn in on registration night, parents and students can concentrate on meeting their teachers, making plans for the fall and exploring their new schools.
Even parents who turn in their paperwork electronically are still encouraged to attend registration night events.
"Students will still want to show up to get their class schedules," Berhorst said.
But she's hopeful if more people choose to file their paperwork electronically, it will translate into shorter, more efficient visits for everyone.
The option for online registration is only open until July 10; after that, parents have to fill out paper forms.
There is one hiccup with the online registration program: Apparently the Internet Explorer 10 browser doesn't work with the system. However, earlier versions of Internet Explorer, and other browsers, such as Safari and Firefox, work fine.
Amy Cook, JCPS enrollment specialist, said online registration helps the district collect correct information on students.
"As a former school secretary, I know that everybody's handwriting is a little bit different and a little bit hard to read," she said. "Online registration ensures better accuracy."