by Andrew Garda

garda@montclairlocal.news

Montclair High School is just wrapping up the 2017-2018 school year, but for the Mountie athletic department, it’s already time to look towards 2018-2019 and beyond.

Sign ups for fall sports are underway, along with Impact tests, physicals and plenty of paperwork.

This year, though, athletic director P.J. Scarpello is working on cutting down that last part. To that end, Scarpello has automated a large portion of the sign-up process through a website called FamilyID.

FamilyID allows schools to set up a website for parents to register their kids for athletics, as well as update forms each season, all in one place.

“It’s more of an efficient way of doing it,” Scarpello said in his office. “It’s really meant to be easier for the parents. Not easier for me or secretaries or anyone else here, though it does make our job easier. And the parents are the ones putting their information in to make sure it’s correct.”

Scarpello said that with everything typed in, the forms are easier to read and less likely to result in errors due to misread handwriting on written pages. Parents will fill out the forms directly on the website.

And with all the information in one database, Scarpello has the flexibility to make better use of it. He can sort by sport, season (once winter or spring launch) or by whether an athlete has all their forms in. Scarpello can then also send out a mass email to all the members of a category if he needs to, such as alerting all the families that their child has completed their sign up for a season of sports.

“I can produce reports for coaches, for administrators, for the board — whomever — a lot easier using this system. Now my job is to sort through 140 people registered in just a couple of days — I anticipate about 900 total for the fall. So I’d much rather look at a computer screen as I’m going through forms. And since it’s digital, I don’t have a packet of papers which could be lost, it’s all on the FamilyID site,” he said.

Among the things parents can see on the site are what the parents still need to get in, whether the athlete has been “approved” — meaning has all their forms in and they’ve been double checked — and when the athlete registered and for what sport.

It will also show when the athlete’s physical expires and the program will send an email out to let a parent know that the expiration date is approaching.

As the website is not built specifically for Montclair, there are a few things which exist that won’t apply to Mountie athletes, such as “cost.” Some districts require money for kids to play sports, but MHS does not.

Scarpello pointed out, though, that the FamilyID website can be used by any school in the district, which means teachers could set up field trip forms and payments through it as well, once they know about it.

Montclair is not the first place Scarpello has used the system, having brought it to Hillsborough in 2012.

“They still use it in Hillsborough, and they still like it,” he said. “It did take a solid two seasons before people became familiar and comfortable with it. And it’s changed and updated itself since 2012, which is why I’m relearning some of the things it does now that it didn’t do back then.”

Scarpello expects it to take a year here as well before everyone is familiar with it and he can turn a lot of the process over to other people. He said that so far, the FamilyID site has received good reviews from parents. Scarpello said many parents have told him they wanted the athletic department to go digital.

The process still has its bumps — some documents which parents had signed off online still needed to be handed in as hard copies during the physicals offered by the school this week — but over time the process will be smoother.

It’s not all Scarpello hopes to do on the online end of things for MHS, either. While he won’t tip his hand, he’s hoping that by the time the school year rolls around in the fall, the Mounties’ presence online will be crisper and more streamlined, with FamilyID being just the start.