The Affordable Care Act remains a hot topic across the nation, and compliance with its regulations is a concern for many school districts. Escambia County School District, located in Pensacola, Florida, is no different. While the district is now focused on maintaining compliance, ECSD once faced the uncertainty and risk of noncompliance in its reporting and payroll practices.
“We were having a difficult time with our legacy system correctly calculating payroll after the changes to the Florida retirement system,” explained Linda Lewis, director of payroll and benefits accounting.
ECSD’s inefficient software had many limitations, such as the number of payroll deductions allowed in the system per employee. “It was very difficult to incorporate changes in the program to keep up with changes from within our school district and outside agencies – whether it was federal or state,” Lewis said.
After dealing with the difficulties and challenges brought on by their outdated system, administrators at ECSD decided to make the switch to a new ERP solution. Lewis and her team knew a technology transition wouldn’t be simple, but a change was necessary.
Escambia County School District selected Skyward’s School Business Suite to improve its outdated payroll process and help achieve and maintain compliance with state, ACA, and federal reporting requirements.
“We knew it would be a lot of work,” Lewis said. “But we also knew, after meeting with Skyward staff, that we had a good implementation team. Their approach to the implementation would keep us moving forward without too many issues.”
"SKYWARD REALLY TOOK THE LEAD WITH ACA COMPLIANCE."
Lewis said the district’s payroll received immediate attention from Skyward’s team of experts. “We all know how important our employees are and that they are counting on us to make payroll happen,” she said.
The district’s first round of payroll transactions using the School Business Suite occurred in the midst of a hurricane. But with help from Skyward’s finance support specialists, administrators at ECSD were able to complete the process without a single interruption. “They were on the phone with us, and we were able to run our first big payroll without any hitches,” Lewis recalled. “That is testimony to the teamwork from Skyward and our district.”
That experience was only the beginning of the district’s teamwork with its new ERP partner. After implementing Skyward’s business solution, ECSD increased the efficiency of its financial practices by reducing the time it took to process payroll, while also lowering the risk of calculation errors. “Our payroll processing is faster and more accurate,” Lewis explained. “We are able to run so many more reports before the final payroll calculation and proof for exceptions.”
Administrators also improved compliance with state and federal reporting requirements, including ACA, quarterly 941, and W-2 processing – all through the School Business Suite’s tools.
“The Affordable Care Act was intimidating from so many aspects,” Lewis explained. “But components in Skyward such as ACA Utilities, Sub Tracking, True Time, and Data Mining helped reduce our risk and improve our compliance.”
“Skyward really took the lead with ACA compliance,” Lewis added. “Thanks to the Skyward ACA Portal, SkyDoc, and Skyward webinars, I was able to schedule meetings with human resources and risk management staff and help coordinate our efforts to meet ACA requirements.”
"SKYWARD IS FOCUSED ON THE MISSION OF PROVIDING AN ADAPTIVE ERP SYSTEM SO THAT WE CAN STAY FOCUSED ON EDUCATING STUDENTS."
With a new ERP solution and technology partner, Lewis and the team at ECSD gained confidence in their ability to stay up to date on reporting mandates and changes.
“After we saw what Skyward had done, and continued to do, we had confidence that we would meet the federal deadlines, continue to maintain compliance, and manage our ACA risk,” Lewis explained.
The district has been able to efficiently import required employee data into 1095 forms and submit files to the IRS prior to the deadline. It also takes less time for ECSD’s staff to complete year-end processes, and it’s easier to make corrections affecting W-2 reporting, retirement reporting, and ACA compliance.
Lewis and her team have taken into account employees’ reactions to Skyward’s tools. “We received positive feedback from our HR and risk management staff regarding our ACA tools provided by Skyward,” she said. “They were very pleased and believed they were ahead of the issue compared to other districts because of Skyward.”
Escambia County School District’s administrators are happy with the service and support they receive from a technology partner dedicated to helping them achieve reporting compliance and improve administrative efficiencies.
“I would recommend Skyward to other districts,” Lewis said. “Skyward is focused on the mission of providing an adaptive ERP system so that we can stay focused on educating students.”
Follow-up resource: School Business Suite
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