Overcrowded schools, inaccurate enrollment projections, and zoning issues are all challenges districts face on a day-to-day basis. Administrators often spend a lot of time and money working with third parties, when the solution they need may already be at their fingertips.
Clovis Municipal School District, located in eastern New Mexico, faced overcrowding in its elementary schools. District leaders knew that additional school buildings were necessary, but were unable to provide information to the state justifying the need for added infrastructure and funding for construction.
The district struggled to make accurate projections of its student population per building from year to year, which made transitioning students from elementary to middle schools difficult.
“We would promote students from elementary schools to middle schools based on more of a ‘feeder school’ system,” said Todd Ulses, information systems coordinator. “The problem with this system was the fact that not every student from the feeder school went to the exact same middle school.”
The district only had two middle schools at the time, so the school counselors determined which students would be moved to different middle schools.
“This feeder school system no longer worked when we opened a third middle school beginning with the 2013- 2014 school year,” Ulses said. “After this first year of having three middle schools, we realized we had several issues.”
"THE COST SAVINGS WILL BE SUBSTANTIAL."
Ulses explained that the district needed to find a better way to forecast the number of students expected at each middle school and improve the method used to promote students from elementary to middle schools. Administrators also had to address overcrowding at the elementary level and justify the need for new buildings.
“In the process of making our justifications, we had to show that our students were indeed attending the schools they were zoned for and that we did have a crowding issue,” he explained.
To demonstrate this need to the state in previous years, the district extracted all elementary students and their addresses and sent the data to a firm in Albuquerque. The firm used the information to geo-code each student, displaying which students attended elementary schools inside and outside the respective school’s attendance zone.
To alleviate this third party process, the district began using Path features within the Skyward Student Management Suite. Administrators were then able to complete the analysis in-house and eliminate use of the third party firm.
“Using the School Path, and more specifically the Current Year Address Path, we were able to avoid paying the Albuquerque firm,” Ulses said. “Using the features available in the Skyward software allowed us to essentially geo-code our own students.”
"WE WERE ABLE TO USE THE SKYWARD SOFTWARE TO SAVE OUR DISTRICT APPROXIMATELY $30,000."
The district was able to run reports on its 12 elementary schools to show which students lived in the attendance zone and what school they were attending. This allowed administrators to determine if students were attending schools outside their zones.
“The results of the data we gained from this process allowed us to see that the students we had zoned for a particular school put that school over capacity, or how much space a particular school had before reaching capacity,” Ulses added. The district was able to use these results to justify why they needed funding for new buildings.
With the help of Skyward’s comprehensive solution, the district achieved significant savings. “We were able to use the Skyward software to save our district approximately $30,000,” Ulses said. But the savings won’t end there.
“The cost savings will be substantial since we are looking at numerous construction projects in the future, and the geo-coding will be needed for each project,” added Carrie Bunce, superintendent of operations.
Clovis Municipal School District was able to extract key information needed to make future projections and data-driven decisions that will have a positive impact on students now and into the future.
“We started out with the intention that this would afford us the opportunity to conduct our own geo-coding and not be at the mercy of a third party firm,” Ulses said. “Going forward, the results of this project will have an important place in future scheduling, forecasting sixth grade middle school enrollment, identifying out-of-zone students, proper elementary attendance, staffing needs, and our understanding of school capacity-related issues.”
The solution will help district administrators continue to improve their schools and ultimately enhance the education they provide their students.
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