Parents in the Kent School District can now check their students' grades, attendance and homework with their smartphones.

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Moms used to send kids to school with lunch money tucked into envelopes, but now they can just top off an online cafeteria account with a few taps on their smartphones.

They also can check grades, assignments and attendance records as well as district calendars, news and notifications, all with free mobile apps designed to better connect parents with schools.

The Kent School District recently launched its mobile app — available on iPhone and Android — joining several other area districts that have gone mobile including Highline, Federal Way and Issaquah.

Kent paid $56,700 to a professional developer for the basic infrastructure and ongoing service, and then customized the app for the district’s specific needs.

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The district hopes to increase parent engagement with the technology, allowing for convenient, real-time communication, according to Thuan Nguyen, the district’s chief information and digital strategy officer.

Parents can use the app to find contact information for teachers, administrators and other district staff.

The district can send notifications and instant alerts, but parents can customize the app so they only get the information they want.

Kent surveyed middle and high school students last spring and discovered that 86 percent of them  had access to a smartphone at home.

The Pew Research Center reported this month that 64 percent of U.S. adults now own a smartphone, up from 35 percent in 2011 when Pew began tracking the trend.

Pew also reported that lower-income adults are more likely to depend on their smartphones for going online.