Smithtown Central School District's newest mode of communicating with parents, students and community members is a free iPhone app with a homegrown edge.
The application, created by a group consisting mostly of Smithtown graduates, is called Smithtown Central School District. Released during a soft launch last week, the app shares emergency, athletic and achievement news in addition to cafeteria menus, athletic game schedules and a calendar of events.
"It provides information at your fingertips," said Maria Rianna, assistant superintendent of instruction and administration.
The app also offers home pages for each of the district's 13 schools, with emergency contact numbers and full directories for staff, faculty and student clubs. The app cost about $9,000, she said, adding that the district will be reimbursed roughly 47 percent of the cost in state aid.
It was created by Digital Natives Group, a digital communications agency specializing in education. Three of the four agency co-founders are Smithtown alums.
Jonathan Jacobs, 23, of Smithtown, said he approached the district last year.
"In college, you have an idea of where to go to find out what's going on tonight, but when it comes to k-12, there's no one place to go," Jacobs said. "Sometimes the communication is either sporadic or it's too frequent, so we wanted to create a hub that would exist as one centralized place."
Most people have heard about the application via word-of-mouth, because it has not officially been announced. As of Monday, about 250 people had downloaded it, Jacobs said. The district is looking to expand to android and other platforms in the near future, said Rianna.
"Especially after the hurricane, we are debriefing about ways to get information out," she said. "It seemed that texting and cellphones were probably one of the options that we would be able to utilize in the future in a much more effective manner."