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 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.

Registration Gateway