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Automation, a worthwhile hassle

Automation: Is Implementation Worth the Hassle?

How much can a change in perspective affect a school district’s central office? Sounds more like life advice from Deepak Chopra than applicable guidance for running a school district. The truth is, a lot of seemingly impossible tasks have been made possible through technology and automation. The issue is that these particular tasks are regular sources of anxiety for central office and administrative personnel, and the idea of letting go of some responsibility is frankly terrifying.

A lot is at stake in a school’s central office – there are kids to worry about, parents to answer to, privacy to protect, and state and government funding to lose. Not exactly a stress-free environment. Letting go of this stress can make us feel vulnerable to error, so it’s understandable that a change in perspective about the technology-takeover is difficult to make, especially for the “digitally-challenged”.

Let’s go through some of these pain points to understand why letting go of the stress is something you can actually do in order to streamline tedious processes without error and in total compliance with state and federal laws, and yes, even with the parents.

Eliminate manual data entry for registrars during student registration.

  1. Why it Hurts: Data needs to be clean, complete, and accurate. Without perfect data, a lot can go haywire – Can you imagine not having the right contact numbers for a student in a time of emergency? Asking a school district to give up some of the control here is scary, for understandable reasons.
  2. A Change in Perspective: Get clean and complete data, with real-time flow to your SIS, by allowing the parents to enter student information and documents Type-ahead data fields prevent error by literally forcing parents to submit data in a certain manner. For instance, they must submit an actual USPS-verified address, and they must submit 2 or 3 or any number of emergency contact information as the school requires before they can complete their enrollment process. Little red asterisks can go a long way, and strictly prohibiting parents from skipping questions doesn’t hurt, either. Parents aren’t bothered by this process; they are thrilled knowing that the school district has everything they need from the guardians to keep their kids safe. They also love that they can have access to an appointment scheduler, allowing them to pick the time that works best for their own schedules.
  3. Relieve Stress, Retain Control: When setting up an online registration system, the implementation team should be responsive and willing to customize a school’s registration system to their needs. We can’t speak for anyone else, but at SRC, this is absolutely true. School districts are assured they can ask all their usual questions to make even the heaviest paper registration packets electronic. Some even choose to make the student handbook a requirement of this system, kind of like accepting the Terms and Conditions to use certain websites. Another thing to remember here is that your registrars still hold the power to review, accept, or deny any data that comes through the online registration system, making sure that incorrect data doesn’t slip through.
  4. Take a Deep Breath: Once approved by the registrar, these student enrollments are sealed, and flow directly into the Student Information System. Meaning the registrar never has to make a copy or pick up a phone to notify anyone that a new student has enrolled. Notifications are automated – everyone who needs to know, knows immediately, and is only given access to the information they are allowed to see. This is guaranteed to be in full compliance with federal laws like FERPA and HIPAA, as well as any state and local retention mandates. So YES, you can let go of this stress!

Get every document needed from parents on time, and know exactly where they are at all times.

  1. Why it hurts: This is not a new problem for school districts. Parents often forget to bring certain documents with them to their registration appointment, and those documents become harder to track down as time passes. Frequently calling and emailing parents to request these documents is urgent and important, but is annoying for both parties. In times of emergency, such as a house fire, parents usually look to the school district for copies of birth certificates and similar precious documents that may have been destroyed. This is just another reason it’s important for schools to be meticulously organized – failing to present these documents to a family in need is not only tragic for the family, it also damages the reputation of the school.
  2. A Change in Perspective: Intelligent Document Management Software. Man oh man, is that a mouthful. Basically, it refers to an incredibly intelligent electronic repository where all documents are stored in digital form. Within the repository, there are all kinds of placeholders to make sure that each document is appropriately labeled and secured, so that each document is extremely easy to retrieve – but only by permissioned users. It also refers to the means of transferring these documents into the system. Physical scanners can be linked to this repository by using a data glyph or bar code related to the individual student and document type. When the data glyph or bar code is scanned, it communicates where the document belongs to the repository and lands in the right folder and the correct document-type placeholder. So when you scan Jane Doe’s 4th quarter report card from 3rd grade, it doesn’t go anywhere except the place holder made specifically for Jane Does’s 4th quarter report card from 3rd
  3. Relieve Stress, Retain Control: So a fancy digital filing cabinet exists, how does that help a school district retrieve documents from parents? Well, there are actually a couple of ways this fancy filing cabinet can make your document dreams come true. First, parents can scan and upload these documents from home. Just like with registration data, registrars must approve and allow the submitted documents to take their place in the repository. Second, imagine the physical filing cabinet in your office calling out every missing document in every folder: Jimmy is missing his immunization record! Susie is missing her permission slip for next week’s field trip! Now imagine that physical filing cabinet pulled out a phone and texted Jimmy and Susie’s parents about their missing documents, and sent them an e-mail as well. By pulling daily reports about missing documents, and setting automated notifications to parents, you can automatically email and text parents until the document is provided. This can happen once a month, week, or every day if you like. It’s still under your control – you just don’t have to physically do it.
  4. Take a Deep Breath: This doesn’t just refer to student documents! It can handle records requests, HR documents, and essentially any other type of business process you may want to automate. Sure, the process has to be built out first – you can’t just go scanning and hoping the repository will figure it out – but there’s really no limit to what you can’t do here. And think of all the trees you can save!

Save a lot of money and time.

  1. Why it Hurts: Because DUH everyone wants to save as much money and time as they can, this isn’t news! This hurts because saving money can require doing less for your staff and student body. This hurts because spending money to save money is risky. This hurts because taking the time to fixate on the details can prevent big issues down the road.
  2. A Change in Perspective: We’ve already been through the ways you can allow staff to stop fixating on the details while still be totally compliant to legal policies and provide great communication to students and guardians. So let’s just think about the time and money it takes to make copies, deliver copies or call around the school to notify other personnel, file documents, find documents, set appointments with parents, buy stamps, lick envelopes, and mail home report cards and policy updates and permission slips, etc. Although individually these tasks can be small, they add up a lot of minutes and cents in the end.
  3. Relieve Stress, Retain Control: When your district utilizes an online enrollment system and/or an electronic document repository, you slice most minutes off of these tasks, and eliminate the printing, paper, and mailing costs that go with them. You also spend money paying your staff to have more productive workdays.
  4. Take a Deep Breath: The software we’ve been talking about isn’t exactly cheap, nor is it easy, breezy right off the bat. Staff needs to be trained on how to use it, and the implementation team on the software side basically needs as much training too, in order to deliver the best solution for the district. But is it worth the cost and the time it takes to get the software in place and the staff up to the task of using it? Absolutely. Most districts recover the cost in their first year and have exponential savings in following years. Staff members become more knowledgeable and comfortable each year, which expands the capabilities at hand. Guardians love that they no longer have to wait in long lines for their registration appointments. As taxpayers, they’re thrilled that their money was used to modernize the school district and make student information more available to them and accessible on their own time.

Going digital isn’t just possible, it’s worth it, and easy in the long run. It’s time to admit manual data entry and document retention isn’t as useful and safe as it feels, and it’s okay to upgrade! Treat yourself and your district to Intelligent Data and Document Management.

How digitizing student records generates high ROI

Going paperless and digitizing your school solutions will help your district save money in a number of ways, from reducing paper costs to enhancing staff productivity. With online solutions, your school district gets the most out of its funding for staff salaries. Your employees will have more time to focus on important tasks and spend less of their work days on tedious paper-based administrative processes.

Here are few ways your school’s return on investment will increase when you go paperless with online school software:

1. No more expensive paper costs
According to Edutopia, schools that eliminate paper-based processes can save up to $250,000 per year on printing and mailing supplies alone. Another factor to keep in mind is that leasing a high-quality printer can cost over $30,000 per year. If a smaller-sized school was to rely less on paper, printing and mailing to complete enrollment, scheduling and file sharing, it could save as much as $80,000 each year.

Digitizing your student records with a solution like SRC Solution’s Registration Gateway is a simple process, as all of the data will automatically be integrated into your existing student information systems.

2. Make the most of your team’s time
The average human data entry error rate is about 1 percent, according to recent research. This is an issue for many office environments, as 65 percent of U.S. organizations cite human error as the main cause of data problems. Automating processes such as enrollment, sending mail to parents’ addresses, and updating student documents reduces the likelihood of these common input errors. There’s no need to physically do tasks like transferring data from paper to online forms, a process that tends to open up more room for costly data entry errors. A lot of time and money is spent going through files to fix these mistakes.

Digitizing student records reduces the number of time-consuming paper-based tasks your staff must handle on a daily basis.Digitizing student records reduces the number of time-consuming paper-based tasks your staff must handle on a daily basis.

By automating workflows with features like online document sharing, you reduce the time usually dedicated to mailing student forms and allow the current employees to handle all of the school’s responsibilities rather than hire additional staff.

3. Increased compliance
With features like enhanced data and document permissions, digital solutions mitigate your schools’ risk of fines and penalties that result from failing to adhere to federal compliance standards like FERPA and NCLB. In fact, the Center on Education Policy reported that an estimated 48 percent of U.S. public schools did not make AYP (adequate yearly progress) as a part of NCLB in 2011. When schools fail to comply to NCLB and other federal standards, they put themselves at risk of losing government funding.

4. Eliminate costly address fraud
Throughout the U.S., many rural school districts have fraudulent addresses linked to up to 10 percent of their student populations. This ends up costing schools millions. For example, Fraud magazine explained that if only 1 percent of the 350,000 charter school students in the Washington D.C. district are illegally enrolled, unecessary costs could reach more than $5 million a year. Online solutions like the Address Purification Gateway automatically identify fraudulent addresses, saving schools millions.

SRC Solutions, Inc. Announces the Launch of Central Records Gateway

SRC Solutions Inc. Revolutionizes Student Relationship Management with Central Records Gateway, an extension of the Gateway family of solutions

Central Records Gateway delivers Risk Mitigation, Compliance Protection, Electronic Cumulative Folders and Enhanced Parent Engagement.

SRC Solutions Inc., the innovators behind a leading online enrollment solution Registration Gateway, is excited to announce the latest addition to the Gateway Suite family of solutions, the Central Records Gateway Student Relationship Management Platform.

Central Records Gateway represents over 20 years of technology and process innovation in records management, archiving, and distribution. Built on a core of tested and market accepted modules, Central Records Gateway is a natural extension of the SRC Solutions Gateway Suite umbrella.

Game changing events in K12 education are few and far in between. Central Records Gateway is one of those game changers. Listening intently to customer feedback over the past 20 years and combining that feedback with over 20 years of expertise in document and registration process you get a REVOLUTION!

Patrick Maher, CEO SRC Solutions, Inc.

Central Records Gateway from SRC Solutions launches with 4 distinct modules aimed at Risk Mitigation, Compliance Protection, Electronic Cumulative Folder Creation and Management as well as Parent Engagement.

Central Records Gateway is comprised of the following modules.

  • Intelligent Document Distributor Transform risky warehouses and filled file cabinets to living, breathing, on demand and accessible records.
  • Advanced Security Controller Automated Access and Permission management roles based on record type. Automated record processing leaving little room for human error.
  • Policy and Compliance Monitor User Configurable Retention and Reporting schedule. Establish both Retention and Archiving schedules from 1 to more than 100 years at the click of a button.
  • Gateway eDelivery Module Automatically delivering and archiving student communications including report cards, progress reports, eliminates the manual processes used today increasing parent interaction all the while saving valuable costs and resources.

Central Records Gateway is the first Student Relationship Management platform that addresses the Who, What, Why, How and When of document, communication and data access. The liberation from paper has begun!

Patrick Maher, CEO SRC Solutions, Inc.

About SRC Solutions, Inc.:

Founded in 2001, the Pennsylvania company is a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), which simplifies and automates cumbersome, repetitive and counter-productive work practices replacing them with easy-to-use, innovative electronic processes. SRC Solutions flagship Gateway Suite incorporates solutions to manage online registration, validate and clean data, as well as improve Student Relationship Management in the K12 market.

For more about SRC Solutions, Inc., please visit: www.src-solutions.com

Featured District: Hazleton Area School District (PA)

Like many districts around the country, the Hazleton Area School District (PA) has been greatly affected by shifting demographics and high rates of student turnover.

Hazleton has historically had a large population of temporary residents. That has long meant a higher-than-average number of new student registrations each summer (and through the school year) for the 10,000-student HASD – one of the fastest-growing districts in the state.

Registration Gateway is designed to make compliance easy, increasing funding opportunities and mitigating legal exposure. From National School Lunch Program data reporting to documentation needs stemming Pennsylvania’s Act 26 Parental Registration Statement, SRC Solutions software makes it simple for districts to deal with regulatory burdens.

The situation was becoming taxing for the district’s two registrars. The sheer amount of data to be entered into PowerSchool was overwhelming, and the number of open registration nights that needed to be held was growing. Traditional registration just wasn’t going to cut it anymore.

The answer? SRC Solutions’ Registration Gateway, the only truly paperless online student registration, re-enrollment and information tracking system. With support for multiple languages and automatic PowerSchool integration, it was just what the Hazleton schools needed.

The HASD launched Registration Gateway for kindergarten registration this spring. The result? Shorter waits at registration nights for parents – especially those with multiple children – and dramatically reduced data entry needs. And even more savings are coming this summer, when new student registration season gears up.

“The Registration Gateway system is a huge help for us,” said Dr. Jeffry Nietz, the HASD’s Student Information Systems Administrator. “The registration secretary doesn’t have to enter 16 pages of information per student into PowerSchool anymore. For families with three or four kids, that would have been hours of work before they could start school. Now, those delays should be much shorter, and data should be error-free.”

That’s good for parents, good for school staff – and good for taxpayers.

“Parents love it, and my registrars love it. Even though we’re only in the ‘soft launch’ phase, 90 percent of the feedback we’re getting is positive. So far, it’s been a wonderful thing from the standpoint of kindergarten registration. The staff at SRC has been tremendous in communicating with us, helping get Registration Gateway set up right and pushing us to get done with what we needed to do to meet our timetable.

Dr. Jeffry Nietz, Hazleton Area School District’s Student Information Systems Administrator

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.

For more about SRC Solutions, Inc., please visit: www.registrationgateway.com

Registration Gateway