Imagine this: The school year is about to begin—a time your human resources department and school clerical staff dread. They are overwhelmed by constant phone calls from employees and parents alike, many of whom are struggling to determine which processes they need to follow and which paper forms they need to complete. After working with frustrated employees and parents, district staff spend hours re-entering the information into multiple systems.
For one district, this was a reality. In Murfreesboro City Schools (MCS), located 34 miles southeast of Nashville, TN, this scenario played out for over 30 years. Trying to cope with disjointed processes that included manual data entry, various workflow procedures, and multiple paper forms for employees and parents, MCS did not fit the definition of a “tech-friendly” district.
In addition, MCS used separate portals for finance and human resources, doubling the data- entry process. “There was no way to provide total employee information such as salary, time off balance, and check history all in one place,” said April Zavisa, attendance and database administrator at the Tennessee district. “Work was duplicated since employee information had to be entered in both systems.”
With goals of a centralized system to easily access data, MCS’s administration knew making a switch to a customizable and paperless environment was crucial. Determined to optimize district efficiencies, MCS implemented Skyward’s School Management System in 2012. Now, with the assistance of online tools such as Custom Forms and Task Manager, the district enjoys a more productive work environment.
"MOVING TO SKYWARD CUSTOM FORMS ON THE STUDENT SIDE HAS SAVED OUR STAFF HOURS OF DATA ENTRY."
Accurate Student Data
Since implementing Skyward’s Student Management Suite, MCS has not only streamlined student registration and attendance within the district, but they have also increased communication with parents.
“Each year, parents had to come into the school to update their children’s information by completing numerous paper forms. This was frustrating for parents who had to take time off from work, and especially frustrating for those with more than one child,” said Zavisa. Once the information was collected, district staff had to manually enter that data into the system.
Determined to make the process smoother, the district launched Online Registration through Skyward’s Family Access portal. Original paper forms were converted to online Custom Forms so parents could easily update them each year. This one change was a substantial time saver for parents with multiple children.
"HUMAN RESOURCES PROCESSES HAVE IMPROVED AT LEAST 50% IN EFFICIENCY."
In addition, MCS also utilized Custom Forms to monitor students with chronic attendance issues. In the past, all attendance and behavioral issues were monitored via paper forms. Attendance staff, counselors, and social workers had to track each other down to obtain the status on a student. Today, the forms are accessible online for those involved in the monitoring process. “Staff can view the measures that have been taken and the next steps in the process online,” says Zavisa.
“Moving to Skyward Custom Forms on the student side has saved our staff hours of data entry,” adds Zavisa.
Improving Staff Morale
The district further developed their internal processes on the business side by using
Task Manager to onboard new employees. The human resources and payroll departments collaborated to establish a workflow for each step in a process, which was converted to task processes. Now, procedures such as onboarding, benefit changes, or status changes are simply displayed online with a clear flow of information. This online solution has allowed staff to work more independently and has given human resources more time to focus on their initiatives. Zavisa states, “Human resources processes have improved at least 50% in efficiency.”
"MY ADVICE IS TO EMBRACE SKYWARD AS A SOLUTION FOR MUCH MORE THAN AN INFORMATION SYSTEM."
With more refined methods, Zavisa notes the positive differences she’s seen among staff. “I can’t emphasize enough how Task Manager has improved attitudes. Our staff have realized its value and they continue to meet a couple of times each year to evaluate current processes as well as develop new ones. They are truly invested in using Task Manager to become more efficient.”
As the district continues to use Skyward’s online tools, Zavisa sees all-around improvements in the workplace, and she regularly receives optimistic feedback from employees. “As staff see how beneficial these products are to their daily work, they show more ownership by offering ideas to enhance what we have in place,” said Zavisa. “It has provided a voice for ideas that may not have been introduced otherwise.”
Moving forward, MCS is preparing to implement Fast Track. In doing so, the district hopes to extend its newfound efficiency to the onboarding, screening, and hiring processes.
Zavisa adds, “My advice is to embrace Skyward as a solution for much more than an information system. It can provide a great tool for growing a team environment in your workplace.”
Follow-up Resource: School Office and Administration
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