Michigan Districts Adopt School Management System

Since 2010, the number of Michigan districts implementing Skyward has increased by 44 percent, with a total of 171 districts using the integrated software to manage local student, finance and human resources data.

Administrators in the Huron and Calhounintermediate school districts say they have cut costs on paper and employee time while being able to more closely monitor student academic progress using the Skyward School Management System. Julie Williams, director of financial operations for Huron Intermediate School District, said that when her district’s previous provider halted service to customers, she found the Skyward School Business Suite to be the most comprehensive solution, specifically because it allowed the entire district’s invoice and expense approval process to go paperless.

“In the past, when a staff member turned in an expense form to a supervisor, the approval process could take a while because papers had to shift from one person to the next,” Williams said. “Now, the process has moved completely online with staff allowed to track the progress of their request in real-time.”

In Marshall, Mich., the Calhoun Intermediate School District provides Skyward support for 15 local school districts in Calhoun and Branch counties. Director of Informational Technology Services Sam Lutgring explained the ISD has provided this type of support for more than 30 years, and that the district’s previous provider halted support of the product.

“The software is fully web-based, and navigation is simple,” he said. “The data flows logically and the software is easy for our staff to use.” Calhoun started piloting the Student Management Suite in four of its schools in February 2012, and now plans to roll the software out to remaining schools later this spring.

“In Michigan, we’re required to measure many data points, such as student academic growth, student attendance patterns, and certain student behaviors,” Lutgring said. “Skyward provides the tools necessary to monitor student progress and help track student academic growth. The staff and teachers appreciate the capabilities of the system and say that it simplifies gradebook management, providing them with more time to support their students’ needs.”

Williams said Huron Intermediate School District, which services eight K-12 districts and six K-8 districts, was initially set to purchase the Skyward School Business Suite for its financial services, but once she realized the efficiencies offered by integrating the program with the Student Management Suite, the ISD converted to both programs prior to the 2012-13 school year. “The greatest benefit to us,” she said, “is the vast amount of information you can get from one screen, in one location.”

Williams said that ever since Huron installed the Skyward programs, support from Skyward has been excellent and very responsive. This fact, she said, shows the software will become even better, particularly as more Michigan school districts implement the system.

“It’s very obvious to me that Skyward software has been developed with the input of educators,” she said. “They take what we say and use it, and I think that’s why I love it so much, because our software is so school-oriented. You can tell school staff have made requests for enhancements and that Skyward employees have listened and offered more tools.”