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Easy as ABC: Reimagining School Technology

(Image credit: Joe Griffin)

JOE GRIFFIN, Chief Technology Officer of Keller Independent School District

For over 21 years, Keller Independent School District (www.kellerisd.net) has served a diverse community and has been recognized as one of the fastest-growing school districts in Tarrant County, Texas. Today, we have around 35,000 students and over 4,000 staff members, and are continuing to grow every year. Despite our size, we’re committed to providing an exceptional experience for both students and teachers in the classroom and on campus.

During our most recent period of rapid growth, it became clear to us that we needed a more efficient way to scale operations. There was a lack of uniformity across key business processes, and every department—from HR to the front office and maintenance—was leveraging a different technology solution to get things done. Every team had a different way of doing things, which ultimately created information silos, delayed our work, and started to build a culture of mistrust due to a lack of accountability. Student success has always been our priority, and we knew that it was time to reimagine our operations to better fit the needs of our students and community.

In 2017, Keller ISD began a Visioning process (www.kellerisd.net) to help redefine the district’s focus in the coming years. Nearly 3,000 individuals in the community responded to the district’s Visioning survey and participated in four educational summits with representatives from six stakeholder groups. A key area of focus in this journey was to determine the Keller ISD technological identity and to define more clearly how we would address the need for innovation.

Through the Visioning process, we identified Laserfiche (www.laserfiche.com) as an enterprise content management (www.laserfiche.com/supportlearn/what-is-ecm) (ECM) solution that would address our technology and innovation needs. With a clear roadmap to success, we deployed our first Laserfiche solution in our HR department (www.laserfiche.com/solutions/human-resources) to address our new employee on boarding process which lacked consistency, clarity, and efficiency.

Previously, there was no official process in place to onboard new employees. It could take weeks, or even months, before the process was complete— depending on the person or department involved. Sometimes the onboarding process involved more than 30 pieces of paperwork that needed to be filled out manually. Once new employees completed the paperwork, they had to mail or hand deliver the documents.

Today, new employees submit the necessary information online via an electronic form, (www.laserfiche.com/products/electronic-forms) eliminating a giant pile of paperwork and a trip to the post office. After submitting their forms electronically, an automated workflow (www.laserfiche.com/products/business-process-automation) guides the documents through the necessary reviews and approvals process. Onboarding is now completed in a matter of days rather than months, and everyone involved is kept up to date on the progress with automated email updates.

There was some initial resistance to adopting the new technology, which is to be expected when you’re trying to change the way things have always been done. However, our HR implementation acted as a catalyst for district-wide adoption once other departments saw the success of the solution. With employee buy-in, we began to think bigger. What else could technology help us achieve? Student records management (www.laserfiche.com/products/records-management) was the next frontier.

As our student population grew, it became clear that our paper-based student records management system no longer fit the needs of our district. With so many students, it was important for us to be able to retrieve and reference critical information quickly while maintaining security—something that was becoming increasingly difficult with physical paperwork. Once, for example, a staff member was transferring student records between campuses when, during the transport, they were stolen from her car. The records had to be recreated, which caused delays and a gap in available information. Obviously, we needed a more secure way to manage and transfer student records.

Now, Keller ISD leverages Laserfiche to manage enrolment documents, test scores, sensitive personal information, legal documents, special education records, and more.

Today, Keller ISD uses technology in almost 100 percent of the district, in departments including HR, finance, and student services. We’re planning to expand our use beyond administrative operations and to improve more processes for students and their families. These processes include student enrolment, field trip permissions, career and technical education applications, and more. Our goal is to provide students and their families with user logins to our technology platforms so that they can better manage their own educational journey.