Portland Public Schools deploys Registration Gateway Online Enrollment integrated with the Aspen Student Information System to achieve cost savings and efficiency

Portland Public Schools combats budget cuts with innovative online solutions.

Portland Public Schools has many goals to achieve success for their student. One of those goals is define and implement a comprehensive district-wide communication plan. One of the tenets of this plan is to refine and implement a district-wide communication plan including stakeholder involvement in the development of protocols and practices.

When faced with a reduction of secretarial staff over the summer, Holly Russo, Registrar at Portland had to come up with a plan. Russo partnered with Registration Gateway from SRC Solutions to refine and implement a new student registration process throughout the district, including information intake from parents, data integration into the Aspen Student Information System, and instant information access to district stakeholders.

“Shifts in staffing are a never ending battle for many of our school district partners and Portland is no different. School districts across the country are achieving tremendous return on investment and positive parent/district communication with Registration Gateway,” said Patrick Maher, CEO of SRC Solutions.

“Portland Public Schools has become more efficient in many ways. First, data entry for students will be consistent across the board. Registration Gateway allows me to complete a new student registration in half the time. The returning student site will eliminate the tedious steps that each school does now sifting through emergency cards reviewing data that needs to be updated. This process will be smoother and create an accurate student information system.”

-Holly Russo, Registrar of Portland Public Schools

Parent acceptance to a new process is key to success. Without parent adoption and support, the project may have a rocky start. Holly is happy to report that parents have been great about using Registration Gateway, as parents have experienced no issues.

“For new students, Registration Gateway is mandatory for enrollment. Parents have found the process easier than hand-written registration. We have completely eliminated the need for parents to fill out paper forms as well as ensuring parents entering the schools reside in the district through Registration Gateway’s Address Look-Up feature,” said Russo.

About SRC Solutions, Inc. | registrationgateway.com

SRC Solutions’ flagship product Registration Gateway has had a long and successful partnership with K12 school districts. Being a technology leader is nothing new to SRC Solutions. Going all the way back to 2008, Registration Gateway was one of the first Online Enrollment solutions to offer real-time data integration to Student Information Systems and integrated document scanning and management.

Solanco School District’s (PA) Utilization Of Registration Gateway Saves Time And Prevents Errors During Enrollment

Registration Gateway helps further Solanco SD’s district goals by allowing them to reallocate time and money to what matters most.

If there’s somebody we can trust about the value of frugality, it’s probably the guy on the one hundred dollar bill. The classic proverb “Time is Money” was written by Benjamin Franklin back in 1748. Since then, lots of money has been spent figuring out how to turn this proverb into savings. Solanco School District is a fine example of Franklin’s sentiment, as they’ve mastered the art of the budget, in part by taking advantage of technology to save time and other resources. As their website attests, “The Solanco School District has a well-earned reputation for fiscal responsibility and innovation, which is reflected in budgeting priorities.” One of these such priorities is Registration Gateway by SRC Solutions, a digital enrollment process that has been awarded the title of District Administration Top 100 Products for the past three years based on its ability to save both time and money.

Sandy Tucker, Assistant Business Manager for Solanco SD, had this to say on the matter: “Registration Gateway has saved time for our school district in a couple of different ways. Parents of our district’s students have the option of enrolling online, which saves us time at the physical registration appointment, and also eliminates data entry for our registrars. Not having to decipher parents’ handwriting and other improvements to data accuracy also expedite the registration process.”
Solanco School District educates around 3,800 students. Which means 3,800 different kinds of handwriting on enrollment forms used to be a daunting task for their registrars. Registration Gateway not only eliminates this struggle, it also integrates with Solanco’s student information system, PowerSchool, to perform completely automated procedures. Registrars can approve enrollment data submitted through Registration Gateway and have it flow directly to PowerSchool without redundantly dedicating another chunk of time to data entry.

Innovative K-12 technology, such as Registration Gateway, is very important to Solanco SD. According to their Technology Department page: “the purpose of technology at Solanco SD is to provide … for rapid communication/collaboration, increase operational productivity, and to provide an infrastructure that will support current and future trends in K-12 education.” Based on this tenet, it’s easy to understand why they chose Registration Gateway instead of other digital solution providers. Registration Gateway seeks to accelerate the enrollment process, and quickly and accurately provide reports that school districts find helpful for staffing and making other preparations for the school year. School staff have a limited amount of time and a lot of responsibilities, so innovative districts like Solanco take advantage of technology they can trust to meticulously handle enrollment while they focus on larger matters at hand.

“More often than not, people think the more time you spend on a certain task, the better the outcome,” says Patrick Maher, CEO of SRC Solutions, Inc. “School enrollment can seem that way, because it is paradoxically incredibly complicated and extraordinarily simple. What our company has figured out, and what Solanco has taken advantage of, is that this process, like most all student data processes, can be kept very simple using technology that demands the proper amount of human attention. In the end, that amount of time and energy is very small, but all those little details that make it seem complicated are still taken care of.”

A lot has changed since Ben Franklin’s days, but time, especially that of a school districts’ registrars and technology department, is still, certainly, money.

To hear what other customers like Solanco School District have to say about using Registration Gateway, click here.

About SRC Solutions, Inc.
SRC Solutions’ flagship product Registration Gateway has had a long and successful partnership with K12 school districts. Being a technology leader is nothing new to SRC Solutions. Going all the way back to 2008, Registration Gateway was one of the first Online Enrollment solutions to offer real-time data integration to Student Information Systems.

A father helps his son with homework

How do good parent-teacher relationships establish high-performing districts?

To excel in their studies, students need support from both their teachers and parents. This means that parent-teacher relationships themselves are very important to students. Children tend to see their mom and dad as role models and are easily influenced by them. If parents aren’t up to date on what their sons or daughters are studying, what their grades are or how they’re behaving in class, students may find it difficult to be motivated when it comes to their work at school.

Parents once had to rely on parent-teacher conferences for a review of their kids’ performance and hope that educators would call if any misconduct occurred. However, with the digitalization of documents like report cards and disciplinary notes, staying aware of students’ progress is easier and more convenient.  School Services departments should consider making parent-teacher relationships a priority by offering online school solutions to keep parents informed and streamline communication between teachers and parents.

Why are parent-teacher relationships important?
Numerous studies have shown that when parents have good relationships with their children’s educators, student performances improve. One recent research review called “A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement” by the National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools, found that when parents are involved with their children’s schooling, they’re able to advocate for their kids and support their progress in the classroom. The research showed that students who had parents who were involved were more confident, displayed higher performance levels and stayed in school longer than those whose parents were uninvolved and rarely communicated with their teachers.

Parents who communicate with their children's teachers will be able to provide more support at home.Parents who communicate with their children’s educators will be able to provide more support at home.

A poll by PBS found similar results. Experts, including doctors and professors, were asked whether parent-teacher relationships were essential to how well students performed in school. The findings showed that respondents agreed that these relationships do contribute to students’ success in school.

“A positive parent-teacher relationship helps your child feel good about school and be successful in school,” Diane Levin, Ph.D., professor of education at Wheelock College told PBS. “It demonstrates to your child that he can trust his teacher, because you do. This positive relationship makes a child feel like the important people in his life are working together.”

“Online student solutions are key to enhanced parent-teacher communication.”

How can school solution software enhance essential relationships?
Student Service departments should offer online school solutions to parents so they can review their children’s important documents and feel more inclined to keep track of their kids’ progress. This is key to enhanced communication between teachers and parents. Electronic student cumulative folders with parent-sharing features enable parents to log on to a secure system and see updates to records like report cards, behavioral evaluations, permission slips and progress reports.

In addition to keeping parents in the loop when it comes to their kids’ progress, online records make it more convenient for teachers to stay organized and keep track of their individual students. This is important, as teachers can have a lot of students at a time, so storing thousands of paper records may become overwhelming and increase the chances that they’ll be misplaced or completed with out-of-date information. During meetings with parents, this could ultimately cause educators to provide the wrong information.

Password protected online records also ensure that safety is a top priority. Schools have to be careful about who can view their student documents. Digitizing records keeps files out of the hands of people who don’t have permission to view them. However, security breaches are always a risk with paper documents.

Parents no longer have to rely on word of mouth to stay posted on what’s going on in the classroom. For a high-performing district, School Services departments should take advantage of secure online solutions to ensure they’re fostering parent-teacher relationships.

School Districts Assist in Child Abuse Prevention and Reporting

School Districts Assist in Child Abuse Prevention and Reporting

When it comes to child abuse, the statistics for our country are saddening. According to Childhelp, there are more than 3 million reports of child abuse made throughout the U.S. each year, involving over 6 million children, one of the worst records of all the industrialized nations. This is the equivalent of one report made every 10 seconds. And therein lies one of the major keys to combating one of the darkest problems to plague our country: reporting. Only through caution, wariness, and diligent reporting can we ensure justice for victims. This is why all 50 states require educators and school personnel to file reports on suspected abuse or negligence, whether they think it comes from in the home or in the school.

The simple news is the fact that child abuse reporting has increased for school-related perpetrators. Shared learning can be implemented to emulate the techniques that certain schools are using to identify potential abuses.

Where has the reporting rate risen and what does it mean?

The Montgomery County school system in Maryland, the largest in the state, reported more than 3,000 incidents of child abuse last year. According to the Washington Post, this is more than double the amount of reports from 2014 and led to the termination of 26 individuals employed by the school, and the revocation of 7 teaching certificates. A member of the district advisory group and a child sexual abuse clinician, Jennifer Alvaro, recognized the new figures: “It’s clear that they have done a lot of hard work to begin the process to help our kids. That should be noted. It should also be noted that a tremendous amount of work needs to be done.”

While the rise in reporting deserves our recognition, as Alvaro suggests, there are still gaps in the reporting process that should be filled in order to prevent child abuse from happening at all. “Some initiatives are not fully implemented – involving volunteers, additional background checks and parent education.”

While it’s admirable that school personnel are tending to the needs of their students through more efficient legal means, they can enforce more preventative measures to decrease child abuse in schools. It’s important to deal with the effects of child abuse through meticulous reporting and proper persecution, but prevention should be the bigger priority.

 

1. How can we further these advances in child abuse reporting?

In 2014, the United States Government Accountability Office put out a report addressing the support needed to prevent and report child abuse by school personnel. One of their suggestions to the federal, state, and local initiatives was to “identify mechanisms to better track and analyze the prevalence of child sexual abuse by school personnel through existing federal data collection systems.”

This falls in line with Alvaro’s suggestion of additional background checks, and including volunteers in these intensive procedures prior to giving them free reign within the school building and/or near the students. “Hampered by inadequate access to employee background information, school districts unwittingly hire teachers and staff accused of sexually abusing students in other districts and states,” the U.S. report said. With little training on how to recognize early signs of predatory behavior, school employees don’t always pay attention to a colleague who is “grooming” a student for sexual abuse with inappropriate attention. And some school districts quietly dismiss teachers accused of potential child sexual abuse, without alerting future employers or seeking to revoke teaching credentials,” the report said.

It’s a sad but true statement that sometimes reporting is all that can be done for the victims in these situations. Some schools just aren’t doing their best to prevent the cause. According to the attorney of two student victims in California, “Brentwood Union School District chose to ignore multiple reports of abuse against vulnerable children and allowed a teacher with a violent history to continue teaching special needs children who could not speak. They reassigned this teacher to another school, again put her in charge of special needs children who could not speak and gave no warning to their parents. Because of their disabilities, these children could not come home and tell their parents what was happening to them in the classroom.” (Check out this article from Oregon to understand how unreported abusive educators end up quietly transferring to different districts in order to prevent school scandals.)

For this reason, it is so important to have a rigorously organized reporting system that keeps track of all incidental data. When the only thing that can be done is file an official report on the abuser, it is imperative that all of the school’s prior knowledge be secured and backed up by dependable technology.

2. How to we improve upon background checks and accessing these “federal data collection systems”? What are the most effective ways to keep abusers out of schools?

You’ll never know who has the capacity to abuse a student, or who already has abused a student and been discreetly swept away by their previous employer, simply by looking at them. The only way to handle these sensitive situations is gather all background information possible prior to hiring any staff member or volunteer, make sure that background information is kept up to date for the entire duration of their employment, and keep track of any and all records that may be needed for an official report of child abuse. This requires the utmost organization and attention to details, such as vetting everyone on school grounds from the principal to the volunteers who supervise field trips or run the drama club.

In addition to educating school staff about the proper procedures for reporting suspicious incidents, every school district should have a secure and reliable new hire system that enables school administrators to gather all the necessary background checks and fingerprint records for storage in one easily accessible and navigable digital platform. It needs to be stressed that these background checks should extend to all volunteers on school grounds. Information is rarely gathered about volunteers who coach sports or run clubs within the school or do things as simple as supervising a field trip. All adults should be treated as an equal risk – because they are. This software solution should have permission and access to federal data collection systems as the U.S. Accountability Office suggests. This same system should be conveniently utilized to report abuse cases through its storage of all background and incidental data.

What does your school look like when the dust settles?

Let’s face it – going back to school is a drag for everyone involved. Kids whine, parents have to replace all the outgrown school clothes and fill out all the paperwork, but the school staff have it worst of all – they’re left with the kids still sluggishly getting back into their school routine AND the mass amounts of documentation that comes with them. Registration packets may seem easy from the parents’ point of view, but registrars must tap into their inner cryptologists to decipher thousands of different handwritings, make calls to summon parents who left blanks in their paperwork, and then delegate all the paperwork to the proper person or file without losing a single sheet of paper. And that’s not even the half of it.

For most school districts, school choice is decided by a complicated set of factors, not just the potential students’ residential addresses. Economic status, special or gifted education needs, older siblings already assigned to a specific building – all these reasons and more can be used to assign students to the proper building within a district. This can be a slow, tedious, error-riddled process during registration time, because secretaries and registrars must work as fast as possible to make sure every student has a seat in their school on the quickly approaching first day. Throw in all the parents who register their kids on the last acceptable day and you’ve got utter chaos.

Once the registration information has been given and the students have been delegated to their proper buildings, those enrollment documents still have a long way to go before they can rest in their folders back in the main office. Copies of medical information must be made for the nurse, who must then relay health information to cafeteria staff, athletic staff, and to specific teachers. Address information must be given to transportation, and bus routes must be made quickly and with the utmost efficiency. Teachers and aides must be given student information pertaining to any specific needs of the children under their supervision.

After the chaos of registration is over, and all the students have a seat on their bus, in their classroom, and away from any allergens in the lunchroom, the documents must be sorted into their proper homes, usually within large file cabinets near the secretary (who may be looking a little too weary for just the first day of school).

Intervention Time.

Schools using a paper-based system have become very used to the whirlwind of tasks that comes right before the onset of a new school year, but there will always be mistakes. Parents will always leave blanks on forms, secretaries will always make typos when translating parent handwriting, and paper will always tear or go missing.

So it’s time for an intervention. It’s 2016 – it’s time to go digital. There are now highly sophisticated software solutions that allow technology to handle all student data from registration information, to automation of school choice decisions, to storage of student information in an easily accessible yet intensely secure digital warehouse.

It’s too accessible and secure not to switch to digital document storing, just ask the East Baton Rouge School Parish System, who just last year had a case of confidential student files stolenby an employee and hidden for over a year – some files are still missing. It’s too inconvenient for staff not to allow parents to register their children for school online (and the parents won’t complain, either), just ask the registration staff from Millburn Township Public Schools, who have eliminated months of staff effort and manual data entry in preparing for student registration by implementing Registration Gateway. It’s too simple and honest not to ensure the fairness and equality of a school lottery process using technology, just ask the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and Public Advocates, who just this month have flagged 253 charter schools for using discriminatory admissions processes.

How can software solutions help with these processes?

Online portals can allow parents to enter registration information, including school choice preferences, which immediately becomes available for review by the secretary at the office. With thorough digital processes, parents cannot move on to the next phase of registration without filling in all information deemed necessary by the school. Handbooks can even be scanned and made available during this process, saving a few trees and ensuring that parents must go through every page and accept the school’s terms and conditions. This saves a ton of money in paper and printing costs for school districts and simultaneously gathers the signed contracts from the parents. This is just one example of the flexibility of new digital record technology. What sets certain solutions apart from cookie-cutter digital forms is whether or not this information can flow directly into the SIS.

As aforementioned, each school district has a unique way of setting the rules for their student lottery. This may be to ensure that bus routes are as efficient as possible, or to make sure that each building within a district has the same amount of students receiving free and reduced lunch. School choice automating software uses algorithms to take a district’s specific rules and apply them fairly to students entering the lottery. It assigns a “weight” to each student measured by the factors determined by the school, and this allows the system to decide in which building the student should be assigned. This prevents parents from crying foul play if their child doesn’t get their first choice. It also prevents school personnel from tampering with the fairness of the process.

Finally, record-keeping software can provide a digital warehouse where each student’s file lives – saving a lot of space in the office previously inhabited by filing cabinets. It stores every document within the system, from the photocopy of the guardian’s ID card to the photo waiver that needs signing in order to take pictures of the kids during school. In short, every piece of data that has been in paper form – report cards, detention slips, hearing and vision tests – can now be stored online. This means that piece of paper with Johnny’s allergies – the one that went from doctor to parent to secretary to school nurse to cafeteria staff to teacher and back to the file – has simply been online the whole time. No photocopying, no lost documents, no liability.

There are a thousand reasons to go digital, but only one solution to all these issues – and that would be the Gateway Suite.

Registration Gateway