Shelby County School District’s student registration process was failing. The district held a one-day registration for parents to go to their students’ schools and fill out paper packets. The problems for the 120,000-student district were long registration lines, frustrated parents and overwhelmed staff, resulting in inaccurate data, unreliable staff resource allocation and student schedule delays.
The district created a registration task force and replaced its manual, paper-based system with PowerSchool Registration. Now, Shelby County School District is saving millions of dollars each year in hard costs and staff time, has improved data accuracy by over 70 percent and is better engaged with parents and the community.
“Our staff loves PowerSchool Registration and we are now eliminating up to two full weeks of staff time. Parents love the convenience of not having to take off from work to come fill out paperwork. We’ve had nothing but positive feedback across the board,” says Dr. Angela Hargrave, Director of Attendance and Discipline, Shelby County School District.
Serving 207 schools throughout Memphis and the surrounding area, Shelby County School District is the 14th largest in the U.S. Faced with an inefficient student registration process, district administrators engaged with all levels of staff and created a collaborative task force to research online enrollment and registration systems.
“Teamwork has been key to our success. Any time you’re going to make this type of significant change in how you do things, you need buy in from people actually doing the work. Our goal as administrators was to create a collaborative team to help implement this change,” explains Hargrave.
Hargrave and her team first reached out to school principals to identify employees who were typically most vocal about procedural changes, or “ones that if they didn’t like something, you’re going to hear about it,” she says. “We created an online registration task force of principals, assistant principals, clerical staff members and secretaries who typically deal with registration, and we called them in early in the process to help develop the plan.”
After task force team research and site visits to other school districts, PowerSchool Registration was selected. The task force helped advocate for the new process in discussions with other administrators and people in the community.
“Our team did a tremendous job working together to get everyone on board with the new system,” says Hargrave.
PowerSchool Registration is an online enrollment and registration solution that removes the inefficiencies associated with paper-based or outdated digital processes, ultimately saving districts and schools time and money. After implementing PowerSchool Registration, Shelby County School District evaluated how much money they were saving on paper, printing, copying, ink, mailing costs and staff time. The district’s printed registration packets averaged 25 pieces of paper for each of its 120,000 students – or three million pages each year.
Given the influx of data entry and filing tasks associated with processing paperwork, the district had to compensate employees for overtime hours and hire additional staff.
“With PowerSchool Registration, we’re now saving millions of dollars each year,” says Hargrave. “Our printing has been eliminated, and we aren’t working overtime or hiring additional staff. It’s just been tremendous as far as cost savings and efficiency that we’ve been able to produce with our work.”
The district also received complaints from parents who had to take time off of work to complete student registration. “Many of our parents are paid hourly, and they were having to take time off of work and lost that pay just to register. Now, they can do it from the convenience of their home, the library, or other community resources on their own timeline outside of work hours. Parents love this convenience.”
For Shelby County School District, having accurate student data is important to ensure timely state funding as well as hiring and resource allocation by projecting correct class sizes. In fact, the year before implementing PowerSchool Registration, district officials overestimated enrollment by about 4,000 students. When the real count was realized, the district was forced to lay off the extra instructors who had been hired.
Before PowerSchool Registration, the district reported less than 20 percent accuracy of student data, meaning that parent and student contact information was mostly inaccurate. Information entered in the system was incomplete or incorrect based on parents filling out forms and school staff re-entering information from parent handwriting.
Since implementing PowerSchool Registration, the district’s data accuracy has risen to 90 percent. “Now, we have better data than we ever had. We went from less than 20 percent accuracy of our student data, which involves being able to connect with parents, to being able to connect with over 90 percent of parents with information that we have by the beginning of the year. It’s updated right then when we need it,” says Hargrave.
In addition to improved state reporting and funding, data accuracy has also enhanced the precision of student health records, Hargrave says. Parents are required to complete health information during the registration process, ensuring students who need healthcare plans have them by the first day of school.
Successful implementation of an online solution for student enrollment and registration involves active participation from all stakeholders. Shelby County School District achieved success in its implementation by actively engaging with parents and the community to inform and educate users on the registration process.
The district used multiple outlets to connect with families, including:
Shelby County School District also trained community partners on registration to create additional resources for parents through the process. With many non-English speakers living in the Memphis area, district officials worked with churches and Latino Memphis (a local advocacy group for the city’s Hispanic community). The outreach was especially helpful since over 32 percent of Memphis residents had no internet access at home.
“We invited them in during the summer where we had computer labs set up for training,” says Hargrave. “We trained them on how they could help parents register. Many organizations opened up their facilities and allowed parents to use computers in community centers and public libraries.”
When faced with registration challenges for its substantial 120,000 student population, Shelby County School District turned to PowerSchool Registration for help. The online solution has provided convenience to working parents, improved data accuracy, and has ultimately saved the district money.
“We couldn’t be happier with PowerSchool Registration and the steps our team took in making sure it was a successful implementation for all of our users,” Hargrave says. “Our results in cost savings and improved accuracy speak for themselves and easily prove the ROI we were able to see almost immediately. We feel like we’ve moved into the new age of technology as opposed to just doing things how we’ve been doing them for a long time.”
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