Houston’s central registration office opens Monday

jmink@macon.comJanuary 9, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- Beginning next week, all parents will venture to the same place when enrolling their children in Houston County schools.

The district’s new central registration office opens Monday in the Bert Rumble Complex at 303 S. Davis Drive, and it should make the stressful registration a simpler experience, officials say.

“They’re going to one place to register instead of going to several different schools,” said Linda Horne, assistant superintendent for school operations.

Many parents have kids in different schools, and the processes often were different at each school. Now, registration will be consistent for all students.

When parents take their children to school, they will only have to meet the principal and teacher instead of dealing with registration hassles, Horne said. Registration is only needed for students new to the district.

Parents need to bring proof of residence, such as a lease or home closing statement, and their children’s birth certificates or custody papers. They should also have the children’s Social Security cards and immunization records on hand. A page on the district website, www.hcbe.net/central-registration.aspx, lists the items parents need to bring.

A translator and immigration worker will be there to help parents and students who do not speak English and have recently moved from another country. A homeless liaison also is stationed at the office to help homeless families get assistance and keep track of homeless students in the system.

In addition to the homeless liaison, the district hired a registration secretary and two assistant technology clerks for the new office.

The new office will not only be helpful to parents, but it also will ease the process for district officials, Horne said. It allows the district to offer a more welcoming atmosphere to parents of new students, and it gives school officials more consistent student data.

Officials decided to open a central registration office after reviewing similar moves in other districts. Still, when neighboring Bibb County opened its central registration office, it was met with mixed reviews. Many parents complained about long wait times in particular.

“We realize that at critical times, there may be some waiting,” Horne said.

Those critical times will be at the beginning of the school year, particularly when parents register their children for preschool and kindergarten. The district plans to staff the registration office with additional workers and encourage parents to fill out registration forms online to save time. Parents also should not wait until the last minute to register their children, Horne said.

“We’re going to try and keep the wait as short as possible,” she said.

The district is opening the office now to pinpoint and fix any issues before the beginning of next academic year. They expect lines to be short this time of year compared to the summer.

“By opening it now, we’re going to work out a lot of the kinks rather than waiting until school starts when we know lines will be longer,” Horne said.

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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