Oswego Unified School District No. 504 needed a new database and student information system (SIS) with more capabilities. Its current SIS was outdated and it needed a solution that would allow the district to grow into the future, provide powerful student data reporting capabilities, with a modern interface, mobile access, and more. The district also wanted to focus its valuable resources on actually using the SIS instead of managing the technical administration of the product.
The district met its needs by choosing the PowerSchool SIS, along with PowerSchool Hosting to handle administrative maintenance. “PowerSchool has been an excellent solution for managing our student data. It’s easy to use and full of functionality. And by implementing PowerSchool Hosting, we’re saving thousands of dollars every year in equipment costs and, more importantly, in staff hours,” said Landon Allen, Director of Information Technology at Oswego Unified School District No. 504.
Set in rural southeastern Kansas, Oswego USD 504 serves 480 students in four schools. Oswego High School is one of only five Kansas schools to be named a 2011 National Blue Ribbon School from the U.S. Department of Education.
PowerSchool, built with flexibility for districts of any size, has helped the small district successfully manage its student data as well as provide more capabilities that it needed. The district has enjoyed the solution’s state reporting functionality, PowerTeacher gradebook, and integration with other third party software it uses.
“Our district has benefited greatly from using the PowerSchool SIS. Our staff has enjoyed how easy it is to use and run reports, teachers love using PowerTeacher, and our parents and students have been better engaged with the schools,” Allen says.
From a technology perspective, hosting is one of the most important processes involved in managing student data. PowerSchool Hosting experts ensure security and reliability; updates, patches, and server management for K-12 schools and districts are efficiently taken care of, enabling educators to invest time in the classroom instead of server maintenance.
“The biggest thing is the peace of mind. PowerSchool takes care of everything, making server maintenance absolutely painless,” Allen says. “There isn’t anything I have to do with the server and that allows me to spend more time with professional development. As an example, PowerSchool is launching its new gradebook, PowerTeacher Pro, and I’ve been able to focus on learning how this classroom management solution will positively impact our educators.” Allen says that since the district has been hosted, the number of staff hours he has to spend updating servers “have been reduced to zero.”
PowerSchool helps Oswego Unified School District 504 secure state and federal funding through accurate, timely compliance reporting. The PowerSchool SIS offers the district robust reporting options to run specific reports based on Kansas State reporting submission requirements. “State reporting with PowerSchool is great! We can easily tie teachers to courses that the state needs, as well as matching data up with the superintendent’s report,” says Tracy Fuller, Secretary at Oswego Unified School District 504. “We use many of PowerSchool’s reporting options and have been able to get reporting done on time and accurately.”
PowerSchool meets state and provincial-specific reporting requirements with multiple supported reports and submissions. PowerSchool compliance teams, reporting development teams, and product management for each state and province meet regularly with government education agencies to stay up to date with changes in reporting requirements.
Teachers at Oswego USD 504 are taking full advantage of PowerTeacher, PowerSchool’s industry-leading digital gradebook and classroom management tool for grading, assignments, attendance, and much more. PowerTeacher gives teachers the right tools to improve efficiency in the classroom and drive student growth with better transparency and accountability.
“From day one, the PowerTeacher gradebook has been straightforward and easy to use. Teachers love how easy and powerful it is, and especially like the custom field options which gives flexibility to tailor to our specific needs,” Allen says. “Teachers use the gradebook heavily, and can access it from anywhere which is really convenient.” The district looks forward to using the latest PowerTeacher Pro Gradebook with a 360-degree view of student performance, quick-fill technology to save time while entering scores, and full functionality on any device.
One new SIS capability that saved Oswego Unified School District 504 staff time is PowerScheduler; PowerSchool’s web-based, automated digital master scheduling component featuring drag-and-drop functionality. Oswego USD 504 can now experiment with scheduling scenarios without the fear of losing previous schedules. In addition to saving time, PowerScheduler has helped the district build a more efficient schedule and get a jumpstart on the next school year.
“Things that used to take days to complete can now be completed in far less time,” says Lynnette Goddard, Oswego School District USD 504 Counselor. “It’s user-friendly and we can easily see and print out students’ schedules. It is also helpful to load the previous year’s schedule and make changes on that, as needed, instead of rebuilding an entire master schedule.”
To PowerSchool, every school and district is important and deserves the same attention—no matter how big or small. Oswego Unified School District 504 has appreciated this approach, as Allen relays a situation in which the district was having issues with PowerSchool’s previous hosting solution before upgrading to its current cloud-based solution.
“I called PowerSchool about our situation, and my voicemail was forwarded directly to the VP of Development who called me and assured me that our issues would be fixed. And they were; we saw real results because PowerSchool genuinely listens to its customers. I was very impressed because I know that the VP of Development has got to be busy and he personally called me back and gave me his cell phone number to call him directly if we had further issues.”
Allen also appreciates PowerSchool’s consultative approach with its customers. “When PowerSchool sends out a message letting us know what patch to update and how to do it, it shows that they are working with customers to ensure data security. Our priorities align in keeping student data safe and secure,” he says.
PowerSchool’s technical support team has helped Oswego USD 504 save money by customizing an identification program that generates student IDs used in the library, cafeteria, and other areas. “If we had to go out and get an ID program on our own, it would have cost us thousands of dollars. But we were able to talk to tech support, bounced ideas off each other, and through collaboration were able to create a system that generates IDs. It works with data already in the SIS to pull in things like school photos, grade level, and school, and then puts it all on a card size.”
By partnering with PowerSchool, Oswego Unified School District 504 is finding better ways to serve its students – through efficient classroom management, better state reporting for necessary funding, improved master scheduling functionality, and more. It is also giving staff better tools to become more efficient with more time to spend on student growth.
“We use PowerSchool every single day, and it’s having a positive impact on our district and the students we serve. We plan on being a PowerSchool customer for many years to come.” Allen says.
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