Waukegan Public School District 60 prides itself on providing top-notch education and creating a learning-centered environment for its students. But, when filing cabinets began to fill the hallways, that environment started feeling cluttered. To get its space back, Waukegan Public Schools turned to enterprise content management (ECM).
Located in Illinois on Lake Michigan, Waukegan Public Schools serve nearly 17,000 students, preschool through twelfth grade. The district operates 15 elementary schools, five middle schools, a preschool program and a high school program with two campuses. With so many students across multiple locations, paper records were growing exponentially, especially in the special education department. Individualized Education Plan documents (IEPs), the document that determines a student’s needs, were taking up the bulk of this collection. Since 2006, the district’s entire student population’s medical files were added to the compliance sector of responsibility. Although the district has a dedicated spot for housing these records, that wasn't sufficient.
Janine Gruhn, Director of Special Education, Secondary Programs and Compliance explained that record storage began to take over productive space. In fact, the room for these files and documents was overflowing, and they were forced to start storing file cabinets in the hallways. “We kept getting file cabinet after file cabinet,” Gruhn said. “Although we were very organized, we didn’t have enough space for all of the records.”
Another problem that occasionally occurred was lack of resources. Robert Jones, the Central File Secretary at Waukegan, is great at his job, but when he is out, staff members would scramble to find a document. This was extremely easy for organized Jones, but it was difficult for those who didn’t know his system. “He could find a file so quickly,” Gruhn explained. “But if he wasn’t here, that would be a major issue. We really depended on that one person to access the records.”
Even though he had a solid system, it was time-consuming. Previously, Jones would receive a request for a file. He’d then hunt it down, make a copy, circulate it, and finally return the file to its original home. Completing each request, start to finish, took Jones approximately 10 minutes. On average, he receives about 135 requests for files per week. Before implementing ECM, it would take him 22.5 hours per week to complete that load, backing him up for an entire week.
The District decided to change the way they were managing paper documents. With assistance from RhinoDox, a Digitech Systems reseller, the district decided in late 2011 to implement PaperVision Capture to scan incoming paper documents and PaperVision Enterprise to manage the files. Gruhn’s main goals were to 1) have every document filed electronically, 2) maintain the existing order of the files and 3) gain the ability to find the files quickly. It was also important for certain staff members to have access to the system. Both products went live in February 2012, and getting everyone on board was simple. Training took less than one week.
Today, new files are scanned as they arrive and managed entirely electronically. It is a more efficient process, Gruhn noted. Today, Jones completes requests for files in just one minute, compared to the 10 minutes previously required.
Space savings will also be notable. The room used to house files takes up approximately 800 square feet, which Gruhn said could eventually be used for meeting space, an office or other staff needs. “Space is always at a premium,” she said. “This will open up other options.”
Now that files are stored in electronic format, it’s easier to monitor who sees each and every document and summarize it in a simple audit report. Gruhn also finds it easier to comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).