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Kildeer Countryside Community Consolidated School District 96 in Illinois partnered with PowerSchool to move registration and fee payments online for the families of its 3,100 students. The result: happy families and staff, accurate data efficiently delivered, and a reinforced reputation as a technology education leader.
Kildeer Countryside Community Consolidated School District 96, based in Buffalo Grove, IL with one kindergarten, four elementary schools and two middle schools, had been known throughout the state as a pioneer and leader in the implementation and use of technology in the classroom, and to improve learning. “We were the first among our peer districts to implement a ‘virtual backpack,’” said Betsy Fresen, public information coordinator, referring to a system that delivers informational flyers and forms home to parents electronically, saving money and natural resources. “Our parents, families and students had come to expect that we would be one step ahead in terms of our teaching and using technology,” noted Assistant Superintendent for Business Jon Hitcho.
But when it came to registration and the solicitation of payments for the parent-teacher organization (PTO), yearbooks, or the school district foundation, Kildeer before 2010 was decidedly “old school.” “Back in the ‘old days’ – before 2010, that is – our school-based secretaries and administrative staff were mired in paper,” noted Hitcho. “Each year, we would ask new families to register, and our returning families to update their information and pay for various fees via paper, by filling out and sending back an array of forms and traditional checks.”
In early 2010, Hitcho added, District 96 made the decision and the commitment that it would move registration and payments online.
Desiring an online registration and payment system by May, 2010, Kildeer Countryside initiated a search for a vendor-partner. All paths led to PowerSchool Registration, an online registration solution for public, charter, and independent schools. “We looked at a number of companies, but it became pretty clear, pretty quickly, that we were going to select PowerSchool Registration. They had the experience and the references that convinced us they were for us.” said Hitcho.
PowerSchool began working with Hitcho and District 96 staff in February, 2010. The company sought input from frontline administrative personnel, who were understandably wary but “cautiously optimistic” about moving registrations online, Hitcho said. He added, “Our administrative assistants heartily agree that having PowerSchool Registration frees significant time that they now devote to meeting student and staff needs in their building. Their ‘cautious optimism’ turned into whole-hearted approval.”
Completed on time, the new PowerSchool Registration online system efficiently centralizes registration and payment for various registration and activity fees, as well as for PTO membership and events, yearbooks and other items.
High Praise from All
With the first use, the online PowerSchool Registration system was roundly well received by Kildeer district stakeholders. “PowerSchool Registration has made a great first impression on new families, and is reassuring for our existing families, because they know they can rely on it to deliver current and accurate information,” said Betsy Fresen. “We find that almost everybody sails through the registration process, and they appreciate the way the PowerSchool Registration system pre-populates fields the following year.”
Jon Hitcho described a recent Parent Review group meeting in which parent members were asked to offer feedback about their experiences with PowerSchool Registration. “I can summarize their feedback this way: we love it. We want you to keep it. We don’t want you to do anything to change it.”
Internally, the PowerSchool Registration system has been a hit as well, seamlessly integrating with the district’s PowerSchool student information system (SIS) and transferring information and data on a nightly basis. It also produces detailed reports on registration trends which in turn helps the school district make personnel and resource decisions.
Outside the immediate District 96 community, not only has the PowerSchool online registration and payment system helped the school district maintain and reinforce its reputation as a technology leader; it has also caught the attention of other school jurisdictions. “We’ve accommodated a lot of requests to look at our system,” said Hitcho. “Other school districts find it hard to believe we can close out our fall registration process by June 30.”
For their part, Hitcho and Fresen indicated that they most appreciate the approach PowerSchool takes to its relationship with District 96. “All along, the PowerSchool Registration team have been responsive to – even proactive about – our questions and our needs,” said Hitcho. “I have confidence that if we have a problem, they will find a solution. And I know we won’t be nickel and dimed for that solution. Nothing about or from the company is what I’d call ‘off the shelf,’” added Fresen. “It’s always an efficient, pleasant process to deal with the PowerSchool Registration team.”
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