In a matter of seconds, volunteers at West Linn-Wilsonville schools can now register and receive a printed badge with a photo as soon as they sign in at school offices.
"We've always expected volunteers for years now to check in at the front office, so there has always been some kind of a system where we've asked adult volunteers to (wear a) paper badge, (or) some schools went ahead and made lanyards," Superintendent Kathy Ludwig said.
The HelpCounter program has become the district-wide system to manage volunteers, a system some schools were already using. This program tracks volunteers, their hours and background checks through a simple sign-in.
"And now this system allows us to make that more consistent and it prints out a label and it can even make little badges," Ludwig said.
Every time a volunteer enters the school office, they sign in on a laptop, take a photo and the technology prints out a label with their name and photo on it.
"Last year, it became more apparent more of the district schools were using the same system so the question was, is this something we should still let individual schools navigate and do differently?" Ludwig said, noting that prior to the district-wide decision to switch to HelpCounter, schools were able to choose their own system to register volunteers. "Or, is it time for us as a district to take that on, take the cost off the plate of volunteer groups themselves or schools, and coordinate that from the district level so there's greater consistency?"
This school year marked the start of the phase-in where schools became able to get daytime volunteers in the system, "because that's our largest face of volunteers," Ludwig said.
There are already more than 1,000 volunteers registered in the program.
The District's Human Relations department is currently in charge of background checks for volunteers who have unsupervised and direct contact with students.
"Our plan is next year we just phase in and bring everybody into the HelpCounter system and that will take that component off of HR organizing that," said Ludwig, adding that the program has the ability to get the background check done. So far, she has heard no negative complaints and hopes the new registration system will make it easier for everyone to manage school volunteers.