HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) — With only a couple weeks of summer vacation left, Hamburg Central School District Superintendent Michael Cornell hopes families are able to enjoy time together.

But at the same time, parents’ eyes are on the next school year, and Cornell wants to make sure there’s a clear line of communication when it comes to the days ahead. That comes down to making sure families, teachers and school administrators are on the same page before (and during) September.

“While I know as a parent, myself, when you get all that stuff home, there’s a lot of things to fill out and do early in September, the bigger picture is we want to do everything that we do with children in partnership with families,” Cornell said.

Whether a student is new or returning, Cornell says families with questions are encouraged to be in communication with their respective school district early and often.

Cornell, who also serves as President of the Erie-Niagara School Superintendents Association, says some communication between families and the school takes place electronically, in lieu of traditional paper packet methods. It’s something families need to be aware of.

Every district has its own culture and technological capacity, Cornell says, so the level of use by district varies. But in terms of Hamburg, programs like Operoo are utilized for things like registering for athletics and continuing education. It works by generating emails through the district’s email system.

Depending on the district, Cornell says electronic notifications could also come from a phone application.

Bus ridership surveys, consent to participate in athletic events and information on electronic devices students may receive from the school are other examples of what might not be presented to parents on paper.

“Generally, a trend that I’m seeing is more of that stuff being put into the hands of families electronically,” Cornell says.

Electronic communication might not be easy for everyone to understand or access, but Cornell encourages families to be proactive and utilize resources offered by the school.

“The clerical folks who work in our main office here in Hamburg and our schools, and across the region, are the people who have a ton of information,” he says. “Often, they have children in schools themselves.”

Something else to keep in mind as extracurricular activities arrive around the corner — getting the proper forms filled out. Sports are starting soon, so Cornell says parents should call their child’s doctor about setting up a physical now if they haven’t yet.

The results of a physical are another one of the forms that might be able to be sent electronically if not taken to a school’s main office or athletic office.

Even if there’s confusion or issues, Cornell believes there isn’t much the Hamburg school district can’t work through to make sure students are good to go on day one. This year, that’s September 6.

“The children bring the joy to the work, and we’re happy that joy comes back to us in early September,” Cornell says.


Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.