In the ever-evolving edtech world, it can be hard for school districts, especially small ones, to keep up without feeling left out. For one district located near the border of Wisconsin and Illinois, a thirty-year relationship with their SIS has withstood the test of time and the rapid rate of technology shifts.
"Human nature seems to always be looking for something new and different, rather than sticking with the tried and true,” said Schoonover. “Change can be a good thing in some instances, but if something is working for you, why change?"
Clinton Community School District in Clinton, Wisconsin, about an hour south of Madison, has been a Skyward partner for over thirty years. Throughout this time the district has seen employees come and go, but one individual has been a constant in the district since 1990.
Char Schoonover, enrollment and Skyward specialist, has a variety of daily duties and responsibilities at Clinton Community School District. Some of her tasks include registration, scheduling, food service management, fee management, reporting, troubleshooting, and training others in Skyward. With the majority of Schoonover’s workday taking place in Skyward, it is imperative that the district’s SIS and ERP software contain everything she needs in one location, all while being extremely user-friendly.
"Experiencing the evolution of the software has truly been a fun experience; almost like watching a child grow up!"
Evolving Technology, Consistent Results
In any business relationship, it is relatively common to seek out a new vendor for a variety of reasons. However, for Clinton Community School District, the evolution of technology, support, and a relationship turned to friendship kept the district with the same solution, spanning decades.
“Human nature seems to always be looking for something new and different, rather than sticking with the tried and true,” said Schoonover. “Change can be a good thing in some instances, but if something is working for you, why change?”
When Schoonover first started working at Clinton Community School District in August of 1990, the district had already been using Skyward, what was then called School Administrative Software, Inc. (SASI), for about one year.
At that time, the system was character based, and reports were printed on tedious dot matrix printers. Processing times for some functions took a long time, requiring reports to be set up to run overnight to be printed. Reports could only be seen after printing, wasting time and paper if parameters were not accurate.
This era of Skyward also did not include any electronic gradebook options. Instead, teachers wrote all their grades on proof sheets, which Schoonover then manually entered into the computer, and then sent them to be printed on report cards. Attendance was also completed in a similar way.
The district didn’t host data offsite; instead, all system backups were stored on floppy disks at the end of each school year. Because the schools were standalone entities, when a grade level moved to the next building, their data was downloaded on a floppy disk and sent to the next school to upload into their system.
The next rendition of Skyward the district used was point-and-click (PAC), which was a huge improvement until the more current web-based interface came along. Now, the district uses both the SIS and ERP side of Skyward’s SMS 2.0 product.
“Experiencing the evolution of the software has truly been a fun experience; almost like watching a child grow up!” said Schoonover.
Though Clinton Community School District and Skyward faced many changes during these early years, Skyward was able to adapt while remaining consistent in the tools offered and its strong customer support. Over time, the relationship between Skyward and Clinton Community School District grew stronger.
“Skyward has met our needs on the student management side on so many levels,” said Schoonover. “The modules available cover every area we need for record keeping and reporting, and Skyward also keeps us up to date on state requirements and reporting so we are able to stay compliant.”
"Skyward continues to constantly improve their product, keeping abreast of what users need and staying proactive in updating the system accordingly, all while making the software easy to understand and always keeping users up to date,” said Schoonover. “They are a true example of the importance of valuing their customers."
Long-Term Relationships Built Upon Support and Improvement
Any long-term relationship begins and ends with trust and support, and that is especially true for the relationship between school districts and their SIS. Throughout the thirty-year history with Clinton Community School District, one thing that stands out is Skyward’s dependable customer consulting and support.
"I personally have always been treated respectfully and felt like I was being listened to when I have submitted service calls,” said Schoonover. “I can always count on the support staff at Skyward to answer my questions, and if they aren’t able to do so, they find someone who can.”
Over the years, Clinton Community School District has also built strong connections with the Skyward customer consulting and support team that has regularly gone beyond just answering questions.
“One support team member that we have often worked with over the years has been amazing,” said Schoonover. “Besides being knowledgeable, she has always been so patient and kind— especially when I have had some unusual requests. She has tackled some unique scheduling and grading issues and found solutions that have made the use of the software meet our individual needs and she has done it with so much grace. We have really appreciated her so much.”
While continuing to build these strong relationships with customers, Skyward has been careful to not get complacent with their technology. The keys to keeping customers happy while constantly improving software? Keeping communication at the forefront, making sure customers stay comfortable with the products they use, and listening to their input.
“Skyward continues to constantly improve their product, keeping abreast of what users need and staying proactive in updating the system accordingly, all while making the software easy to understand and always keeping users up to date,” said Schoonover. “They are a true example of the importance of valuing their customers.”
Reflecting on the past thirty years, Skyward and Clinton Community School District have thoroughly enjoyed their partnership. Both are looking forward to many more years together, and eagerly anticipate more technology evolutions along the way.
For other districts considering a move to Skyward, Schoonover has one piece of advice:
“Skyward is well worth the investment. Besides the excellent software product, you can always depend on the customer support to help you with any questions you may have. You can tell that Skyward employees are intentional about ‘service with a smile.’”