2017 District Leaders in Excellence Alexis Bushman by Alexis Bushman Alexis Bushman Marketing Communications Manager Read time: The Leader in Excellence Award is our way of recognizing districts that have used Skyward to positively impact school management and student performance. We’d like to thank this year's recipients for serving as model examples of the difference that edtech – when paired with strong leadership – can make in a district and community. Without further ado, here are our winners, presented in alphabetical order: Birdville ISD Texas Birdville ISD, located in the Fort Worth area, has been a Skyward partner for 14 years. The district is a shining example of how to use Skyward to simplify processes and save money. Throughout BISD’s schools, online registration alone saves roughly $3,500 per year in paper forms. Michelle Kamp, the district’s senior developer, believes they have saved “hundreds of thousands of dollars” thanks to Skyward. But the improvement the BISD community enjoys most is harder to quantify: time saved. The immediacy of information exchange between administrators and teachers, teachers and parents, and parents and students has changed every aspect of the Birdville ISD experience. Reports that used to take weeks now take hours. Access to student records, which once required geographic proximity to the students’ schools, can now be at an administrator’s fingertips in seconds. BISD has used Skyward in a variety of ways to help its students succeed. The district uses Skyward to identify struggling students early, allowing for quicker intervention and course correction that can change these students’ academic trajectories, and ultimately, their futures. BISD has also used Custom Forms to collect information from students who would like to receive a city library card. This year, 341 students took advantage of this opportunity, which will give them greater access to reference materials and other books. Kamp has been identified by other Texas districts as a “knowledge source on all things Skyward.” According to Leslie Garakani, the director of technology services at Lindale ISD, “Birdville ISD is obviously a leader in innovation... These undeclared [district] partnerships are key to our continued success as a state and I'm grateful to Birdville ISD for supporting this collaboration.” Last year, BISD received the Raise Your Hand Texas Blended Learning Initiative Grant. This award is given to schools whose efforts to implement blended learning have the potential to impact other area schools. Round Lake Area Schools – District 116 Illinois Our second Leader in Excellence district, Round Lake Area Schools – District 116, is located in the northeast corner of Illinois. RLAS-116 is committed to trying new approaches to increase student achievement. Last year, they implemented a standards-based gradebook at the high school and adopted a district-wide 1:1 device pilot program. They’ve also started offering Project Lead the Way/Gateway Engineering courses at the middle and high school levels and an Elementary Scholars program for 4th and 5th graders who excel in reading and math. RLAS-116’s efforts have led to successes across the board. A top priority at RLAS-116 is reducing the achievement gap, which cannot be done without accurate records. The district put several Skyward tools to use in pursuit of this goal, including Skyward’s Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) Query tool. The ODBC tool helped remove tens of thousands of duplicate export file records, eliminating the need for third-party vendors. Roster files are kept up to date through automatic data transfers, making it easier to measure student success. The district also made a commitment to save $25,000 in printing costs. To work toward a paperless model, they started using True Time and New Student Online Enrollment, automated their suspension process, and began emailing fee statements to families. They reinvested the money going paperless saved into their students, an approach that has proven successful. In the past two years, RLAS-116’s graduation rate climbed from 72% to 86%. In addition, over the past three years, the number of enrollments in Advanced Placement courses increased by 64%. The district believes this success stems from their investments in the best methods and technology available. RLAS-116 has received an assortment of awards. Thanks to its collaboration with Skyward and its use of the finance module and budgeting capabilities, the district earned a Certificate of Excellence for Financial Reporting. Eight of its schools were recognized by the Midwest Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Network for their successful implementations of PBIS during the 2015-16 school year. In addition, three of its schools boasted top 10 finishes in the county’s attendance week competition. A Skyward partner since 2005, RLAS-116 administrators and staff actively participate in Skyward-sponsored events, conferences, and webinars, and have worked with Skyward to enhance the products and services available. Walled Lake Consolidated Schools Michigan “Every child, every day.” That is the core of Walled Lake Consolidated Schools’ philosophy. It summarizes the Detroit-area district’s commitment to guaranteeing every child, regardless of ability, finds success. But in the words of WLCSD, “creating this cultural ethos in a district serving 15,000 students is not without challenge. This is where Skyward enters the narrative.” Skyward has touched almost every corner of the school system. Administrators, counselors, and teachers use the message center and Skylert to communicate with parents, and every department’s newsletter is distributed through the message center. Skylert helps the Community Ed Department to spread awareness of upcoming events and classes, and the Transportation Department to contact families if transportation issues arise. At the district level, the PR team sends information to all parents via Skyward, and parents and students access schedules, progress reports, and assignments through Family and Student Access. The district is in its second year using online enrollment. Last year, over 95% of families used the system to complete all required forms, update their contact information, and pay fees. By switching to a paperless environment and eliminating the need to print and mail forms, letters, schedules, and report cards, the district has saved tens of thousands of dollars. In addition to reducing paper, print, and mailing fees, they’ve also shifted previous employee responsibilities from office tasks like printing, sorting, and mailing toward more value-added work that improves student achievement. WLCSD has been recognized by national organizations including Project RED, EPSON, Cisco, USA Today, Trend Micro, and Education Week for its innovative technology programs and services. As a Skyward partner for the last 10 years, the district has implemented the majority of Skyward’s modules and also played a role in the development of the childcare feature within Fee Management. Congratulations to our three district award winners! Each of them will be recognized this spring at iCon, the premier event for the Skyward community. This year's conference will be held March 8-10 at the TradeWinds Island Resorts in St. Pete Beach, FL. Alexis Bushman Marketing Communications Manager Share this story: Want tips, tricks, and feature updates delivered to your inbox once a month? Sign up here!