Nixa — As the school year began, RaeLynn Anderson spent less than 15 minutes enrolling her daughter as a freshman at Nixa High School — and she filled out the forms on her laptop while she watched TV.
So the district’s online registration system, new this fall, is fine with her.
“Anytime they can eliminate the mountains of paperwork that we get home on the first day of school I think is helpful, because I just don’t know if a lot of people read everything that comes home,” Anderson said.
As one of the first area districts to require online registration, Nixa hopes to cut costs and increase accuracy and privacy of information as it reduces the amount of paperwork through the Registration Gateway, said Zac Rantz, communication coordinator for the schools.
“I do not know of another district that has gone completely online with everything as we have,” Rantz said.
Instead of filling out a stack of paper forms on everything from enrollment and medical information to technology use and the free and reduced-price lunch program, parents and guardians are now going online to supply data.
Some have suggested improvements. While the process wasn’t time-consuming for Anderson, for example, she said she knows of parents with several children who didn’t like the fact that they had to enter family information more than once online.
Yet many have offered positive feedback about the new system, Rantz said — “along the lines of ‘It’s about time. We’re glad that you’ve done that.’”
Online information isn’t new to the Nixa School District.
For a couple of years, families have been able to access grades, attendance reports and other student information through the district’s PowerSchool system, Rantz said.
But last year, a district Comprehensive School Improvement Plan committee began to look into online registration, too, after discovering that more than 90 percent of Nixa families have home computers with Internet access — and that implementation and licensing fees for an online system would cost less than the usual process.
By the end of the 2010-2011 school year, the district was notifying families of the upcoming change — or mandate, since Rantz said there’s no traditional paperwork alternative for less-than-computer-savvy patrons.
At new student enrollment in early August and as school began, however, staff and volunteers helped those who needed either coaching or computer access.
And the district will continue to offer help and access, Rantz said: At Inman Intermediate School, office manager Sue Clement has reserved a computer for parents’ use.
“My kiosk, I like to call it,” she said with a laugh.
Saving time, costs
While learning how to use the new system is taking some time right now, Clement said it is already saving time, too.
Although she and other office managers do double-check online forms to make sure the schools have all the information they need, they no longer have to input information from paper — a process that once took months, Rantz said, with about 5,800 students in the district.
In addition, as students are enrolled online, the system sends automatic emails to those in charge of services such as special education or the free and reduced-price lunch program, so staff can match students with services more quickly.
There’s been many times a child has walked in with their parents to meet us and receive a teacher, and we’re ready. We’ve got all that background information for them, so we can place them, and we can start serving them right away.
-Sue Clement, Office Manager
With an implementation and training fee of $9,995 and an annual license fee of $12,000, the system isn’t free.
But it didn’t take too many calculations for the district to realize that copying, paper, postage and staff hours cost more, Rantz said, especially when it came to sending summertime packets at $1 in postage alone to Nixa’s 1,600 or so high school students.
Accuracy and privacy are other attributes of the new system, he said.
Mistakes still pop up on online forms, but office managers don’t have to contend with deciphering poor handwriting.
The online system also makes families’ applications for the free and reduced-price lunch program even more confidential than turning in sealed envelopes, a district practice since 2008 that led to greater participation in the program.
“This is a just a way for parents to apply even more anonymously,” Rantz said.
Yet greater positive personal interaction between families and staff — without sheets of paper between them — was one of the first benefits Clement saw at Inman.
“This time, when we had orientation, they walked in and they truly got to meet the teacher, and the teacher could talk to them about expectations,” she said. “We weren’t giving them all these sheets of information and saying, ‘Do this, do this.’”
About SRC Solutions With more than 5 million enrollments processed each year for schools, businesses and governments, SRC Solutions is the global leader in online registration. Founded in 2001, the Pennsylvania company is a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), which specializes in identifying cumbersome, repetitive and counter-productive work practices and replacing them with easy-to-use, innovative digital processes.
As a XEROX® Platinum Partner and an authorized reseller for Kofax, Surety and Recruit Manager, SRC provides solutions for both the public and private sector, including document management, workflow improvement and integration into numerous ERP systems. SRC Solutions: Breaking the boundaries of paper.