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.

Ensuring Unbiased Admissions Processes

Ensuring Unbiased Admissions Process for Public and Charter School Districts

Charter schools and public schools have recently been under scrutiny to ensure that their admissions process is legitimately allowing students of all backgrounds and situations a fair shot at enrollment within their districts. Setting the rules for a fair enrollment process can be very simple task, but enforcing those rules and providing transparency can be a challenge with paper processes.  Without leveraging technology, school lottery processes can be subject to questioning from parents and school protocol monitoring committees. So the question to be answered is: How does a school district or charter school ensure that their admissions process is securely unbiased?

  1. Unfair admissions processes are very common.

According to the L.A. Times, “253 California charter schools are currently flagged for discriminatory admissions practices in a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and Public Advocates.” The factors that have been measured in order to identify these districts include bias against English language learners, mandates for parents, auditions and academic performance. State law in California requires that charter schools take in all students, therefore deterring any child from a charter school education is unlawful on any grounds. While states have different laws pertaining to how public and charter schools must implement their enrollment process, each district or charter must fairly impose those laws and act in accordance with their own state’s laws.


2. What happens when a school system foregoes a rigorously regulated admissions process?

Nepotism and favoritism are running rampant in school systems neglecting to technologically ensure the fairness of their admissions process. In New Orleans, where residence is not a factor in deciding the placement of any student, only 7 public schools have opted out of the common admissions process which ensures equality for prospective students. Using a singular online registration form, the two New Orleans school systems have been able to fairly divide proportionate amounts of gifted (avg. 7% per school), special education (11%), economically disadvantaged (85%) and white students (7%) (Source: Louisiana Department of Education). Only seven schools have neglected to utilize the common application, and three of these schools have vastly disproportionate statistics, accepting mainly white and gifted students and only 21-61% economically disadvantaged students and 4-8% of special education. These three schools have been accused of cherry picking through applications by imposing an admissions process with a “unique set of requirements so complicated that parents have to make spreadsheets to keep track of the steps”, which includes hand-delivering an physical application during school business hours (Times-Picayune, 2016).

3. How can the right technology help this situation?

Parents and students deserve transparency when it comes to applying for schools. School systems deserve a lottery process that graces both staff and students with respect and equality. This prevents their methods from being criticized and the community from reproaching the school’s reputation. Efficient school choice software solutions allow a school district to tailor the enrollment process in accordance with state and local laws as well as school policy. With a digital lottery process in place, potential students should have the ability to apply for admission online, with the opportunity to rank their choice buildings within one district. This is the closest anyone should be able to come to tilting the scales in this process, and when everyone is able to do it – it’s fair. Once the rules of this technological admissions process are put in place by the district, the algorithms can impartially determine a “weight” for each student, based on factors such as free and reduced lunch needs or the presence of siblings in a particular school, and assign them proportionately into the correct school buildings. This prevents parents from claiming favoritism and prevents any negative allegations for the school district. Humans will always act out of self-interest, but technology can achieve the objectivism necessary to ensure unbiased admissions processes.

SRC Solutions Announces School Choice/Open Enrollment Gateway

Newest addition to the Gateway family of solutions applies a rules engine to the school selection and lottery process.

SRC Solutions, developers of groundbreaking paperless enrollment, downstream reporting, compliance and document tracking software, has announced the launch of School Choice/Open Enrollment Gateway, a rules-based solution to the unique challenges presented by school choice and open enrollment processes.

SC/OE Gateway is the only school-selection solution to feature a built-in rules engine – enabling administers to adjust or change rules in-house. The solution’s configurable design puts the ability to adjust the rules engine in the hands of district employees, rather than outside contractors.

“School Choice/Open Enrollment Gateway builds on the advantages already offered by Registration Gateway,” SRC Solutions Founder and CEO Patrick Maher said. “Collecting school preferences is as simple as building a few fields into the existing online registration and re-enrollment process. Once the solution has matched a student with an open seat, it can automatically notify parents with their child’s placement information.

“School Choice/Open Enrollment Gateway is a configurable, rules-based solution that streamlines the process for both school staffs and parents.”

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: registrationgateway.com

Registration Gateway