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.

How Electronic Cumulative Folders can Save a School District Thousands of Dollars a Year

A paperless solution is the singular answer to a myriad of paper-based problems. 

With an average cost of $0.02 per sheet of paper, it’s a common misconception that the paper route is the cheapest way to run an office. For some offices with very low paper needs, this may be true, but for offices that have to keep an excessive amount of paper on file, more than just the cost of paper has to be taken into account. That $0.02 adds up so quickly, that the original price of the single piece of paper isn’t nearly as shocking as the end result. For example, if a public school district has 5,000 students (as at least 701 American school districts do), and each student has 20 pieces of paper in their file, the total cost of paper in those files is $2,000. Now let’s say the school secretary has to make two copies of each piece of paper in every student’s file: one for their teacher and one to send home to their parents. The total cost is now $6,000 in just paper. And where are those files kept? Manila folders, which cost on average $10 per box of 100. So let’s calculate the cost for 2 folders per student (since the school nurse, the teachers, and the school nurse probably all need folders as well) – $1,000.

While this example uses basic math to prove a point – the actual research, done by Mandy Haggith, an environmental activist with a specialty in tree preservation, states that the average U.S. office worker uses 10,000 pieces of paper a year. So let’s go back to the basic math, and say that this public school with 5,000 students has 20 administrators, 227  teachers (which would serve 22 students per classroom), and 5 secretaries, and 2 nurses, and they each only use 1,000 pieces of paper a year. The total cost of paper usage for one year, based on Haggith’s research, would be $5,800, and keep in mind that this example touts a relatively small school district and a small number of employees. 

The price of paper includes a lot more than just the cost of the reams.  Let’s not forget about refill printing supplies, acquiring and accommodating filing cabinets, folders, extra storage space at a warehouse for old files, and of course, paying for the labor involved with making copies, filing, locating misplaced files, and re-creating lost documents. The cost of toner alone for a laser-jet printer is around $75 a cartridge, which will print around 2,000 pages – meaning for the example at hand an office would need to spend at least $9,525 a year on just the toner for the staff’s printing needs (254 employees). Let’s hope those printers don’t break down and cost more money in repairs.

Storage is a much heftier expense. A five drawer filing cabinet of fine quality can cost an office around $500.  “The average filing cabinet uses 15.7 square feet, and the current U.S. average cost of office space is $15–$20 per square foot, so you’re paying roughly $236–$314 per filing cabinet solely for the real estate it consumes. Current estimates show that 50–70% of space in an office is still dedicated to filing and storage of documentation,” (McCorry, 2009). Studies also show that over 45% of the files in those cabinets are duplicated information, and 80% is never accessed again. These files are simply detained in case of legal liability and compliance. And when those files are needed in order to respond to a lawsuit or to adhere to a FERPA situation (for a school district), often the searcher finds that the necessary documents have been misplaced or misfiled. A study conducted by Deloitte & Touche found that U.S. managers spent an average of three hours a week looking for paper that had been misfiled, mislabeled, or lost. IDC Research estimated that the typical enterprise with 1,000 workers wasted $2.5 to $3.5 million per year searching for information and re-creating lost documents. The point we’ve been getting at is that not only are these exorbitant storage costs easily erased, so are the mistakes and mishaps that come along with paper files. The redundant amount of copies upon copies that are printed for records and distribution can exist safely and accessibly in a single place within paperless filing software – like Electronic Cumulative Folders.

This math in this graphic comes from an example student count of 5,000 students.

A paperless solution is the singular answer to a myriad of paper-based problems. Online filing systems, like Central Records Gateway from SRC Solutions, Inc., equipped with Electronic Cumulative Folders s eliminates the issues mentioned, and many more for the price of $3.00 per student, employee, or case folder. Let’s go back to our first example, the small school with 5,000 students. Suddenly the cost of paper, copies, printer needs, storage space, and staff labor comes to a mere $15,000, total by replacing all the supplies and manual labor associated with a paper-based system with an automated digital filing system. Our sample school here would have saved $12,076 by paying the cost of Central Records Gateway instead. The ROI keeps on rising when you realize that the paper, folders, and staff time ($12,800) would be saved each and every year after the implementation of Electronic Cumulative Folders. Eliminate the cost of paper files, the cost of copying paper to distribute within the office and to parents or clients, eliminate the time and effort it takes staff to file documents and then dig them back up, eliminate the frequency that the office must repair printers and replace their toner and ink, and eliminate the cost of storage space inside and outside the office with Electronic Cumulative Folders. This solution can be utilized by more than just school offices, it can also serve the needs of any HR department, law office, and other types of business offices. Schedule a demonstration today by emailing sales@src-solutions.com.

How paperless solutions can help fix common problems within the US education system

Schools throughout the U.S. education system face common challenges that interfere with the quality of student learning. Online systems designed to enhance tasks like conference scheduling and organizing student cumulative folders can help schools reduce the impact of these issues. Here are two obstacles that paperless solutions can help schools overcome:

Poor parent involvement 
According to the Center for Public Education, research has shown that an estimated two-thirds of teachers believe their students would do better academically if their parents were more involved in their children’s education. Meanwhile, 72 percent of parents agreed that students with uninvolved parents were far more likely to “fall through the cracks” in school, as students with more attentive parents often receive the most attention from teachers.

Students whose parents are more involved in their education do better academically. Students whose parents are more involved in their education often do better academically.

School solutions can enhance parent involvement by making important student documents digitally accessible. Systems like SRC Solution’s Central Records Gateway offer parent-sharing features so they can log in from home and have updated documents like progress reports and behavioral assessments at their fingertips.

Automated conference scheduling systems, such as SRC Solution’s Conference Gateway, also increase parent participation in parent-teacher meetings, enabling parents to conveniently select an open meeting time online. This encourages parents to attend parent-teacher conferences, as it allows them to work around their own schedule and more efficiently plan ahead. They can also note specific questions or topics they want to discuss at the meeting so that the staff can better prepare beforehand and truly personalize and improve the quality of their parent-teacher relationships. This is important, as the National Education Association explained that only 48 percent of parents feel teachers hold efficient conferences, so detailing discussion points ahead of time can drastically improve the outcomes of meetings.

Lack of funding 
The Atlantic noted that recent reports have shown schools across the U.S. are expected to do more for their students with increasingly less government funding as the years go on. This has put a lot of pressure on schools to reserve the money they do have for important student programs and other essential needs. Going paperless can assist districts in cutting back on yearly expenses. According to Aiim Community, most organizations that do away with paper-based workflows save over $500 per person each year in supplies like ink, paper and printers.

Address fraud is another common issue experienced by K-12 districts that ends up taking key funding away from schools. If it goes unnoticed, address fraud can cost schools millions each year. For example, The Hechinger Report explained that schools in Beverly Hills, California – which deal with at least one case of registration fraud each month – are charging parents with $150 for every day that their child was enrolled illegally in their schools, as they believe this is a fair equivalent of the funding they lost as a result. SRC Solution’s Address Purification Gateway automates the process of identifying falsified addresses to ensure your district’s money is spent properly and residential students are receiving the education they deserve.

SRC Solutions Launches Gateway eDelivery to Suite of K-12 Solutions Products

SRC Solutions, a leader in online registration and business process improvement, announces the launch of Gateway eDelivery, an electronic document delivery system that enables parents and school administrators to communicate in a secure environment.

By using Gateway eDelivery, administrators can deliver important documents to guardians – report cards, progress reports, schedules, test scores and permission slips – through a secure, online platform or email.

“Districts are continually being asked to do more with less,” said Patrick Maher, Founder and CEO of SRC Solutions. “Gateway eDelivery not only encourages ongoing communication between parents and teachers, it enables districts to automate and simplify traditional methods of communicating with parents. This automation enables the expenses associated with printer paper, toner, envelopes, stamps and labor to be reallocated and reinvested in new technologies that better serve schools’ most important constituents – its students.”

Designed to work within a school’s existing process, Gateway eDelivery provides several benefits for administrators, teachers, parents and students alike, including:

  • Enhanced communication between administrators, teachers and parents. With secure, password-protected access to report cards, progress reports and more, parents stay informed of their child’s progress throughout the school year.
  • Cost savings. Gateway eDelivery makes it easy for school districts to switch from manual student document delivery to the electronic system, allowing for immediate cost savings. Time and money spent printing, folding, stuffing, mailing and more are eliminated, allowing Gateway eDelivery to be funded through existing budget items.
  • 360-degree, lifetime view of student records. Gateway eDelivery makes it possible for parents and students to access student files from years prior, in addition to current information – and they’re all stored in the same place.

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

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