Frisco ISD is rolling out a number of new processes for the 2016-17 school year as part of an ongoing effort to make operations more efficient and cost effective.
Technology and other business solutions are helping FISD automate processes, streamline workflows and electronically track information, as the District continues to seek new and innovative ways to improve performance and save taxpayer dollars.
Earlier this year, Frisco ISD accepted the Laserfiche Run Smarter Award for Enterprise Transformation. It’s the second award of its kind for the District, which also won for Innovation in K-12 Education in 2013.
Laserfiche honors organizations each year who use their software to improve productivity, innovate processes and achieve exceptional business results.
The winning project automates and integrates all the tasks necessary for Frisco ISD to process students applying for the Gifted and Talented program. It’s a game-changer for GT teachers and administrators.
“The implementation of this new system will streamline the entire process, allowing our teachers and GT team to focus on the student and parents, as they work collaboratively to ensure student success,” said Bob Allen, director of business applications and process. “The result will be an improved experience for all.”
The new referral and screening process will launch in the coming school year, first at middle and high schools and then at elementary schools. It will allow teachers and administrators to access student data and complete identification tasks – a process that once took hours of manpower – with the click of a mouse, giving a more accurate view of a student’s eligibility for the program.
It also removes the possibility for error when transferring documents as students move from elementary to secondary schools or transfer into the program from another school district.
“This will allow teachers to better utilize their before- and after-school time to plan engaging lessons, tutor students and collaborate with colleagues to best meet the academic needs of students,” said Julie Martin, secondary coordinator of Gifted and Talented.
More than 3,600 students were referred and tested for the GT program during the 2015-16 school year, with the majority of students referred at the elementary level. The District projects that number to grow to nearly 4,500 in 2016-17, as enrollment in FISD climbs to more than 56,000 students.
“It made sense to start with the secondary level first – to train teachers and fine-tune the training and electronic processes – before adding the elementary schools to it,” Martin said.
In May, GT teachers participated in a pilot training for the new system and some described it as “life-changing,” said Jennifer Adams, elementary coordinator of Gifted and Talented.
More teachers are being trained this month and others later this fall.
It’s just one of many projects already completed or in the works to improve processes across the District, from Curriculum and Instruction to Human Resources and beyond.
This summer, more than 30,000 messages were transferred electronically to parents regarding STAAR test results and student transfers, saving paper, postage and hundreds of hours of manpower during off-contract time for most FISD staff.
Other projects being implemented in the 2016-17 school year include:
- A new volunteer management system will track and mobilize individuals wanting to volunteer in different areas of the District. The system conducts background checks on those individuals, provides them with lists of volunteer opportunities and will communicate directly with them via email without staff involvement. It will also serve as a reference database.
- Tracking the completion of teacher and administrative compliance training is now easier due to a new business process and technology-enabled solution that reports data and sends out reminder emails to staff members each week.
- The accounts payable process has been automated, so receipts, invoices and purchase orders are reconciled and bills are automatically paid when everything is matched correctly, freeing up staff members to focus on the exceptions to ensure proper payments.
- The Human Resources Department continues to benefit from business process and technology improvements that provide extensive automation in the hiring and employee on-boarding process. Not only is the hiring process more effective, but surveys have demonstrated it is a better experience for new employees joining the Frisco ISD team.
These projects and many others have gained attention well beyond Frisco ISD and Laserfiche.
“We get a lot of districts that want to hear about how we are using Laserfiche in integration with other systems to take these really people-intensive, inefficient processes and make them smart,” said Brandon Sharp, an FISD program analyst.
Districts from across the globe have reached out to FISD to understand its customization of different systems, with the hopes of achieving similar results to meet their own needs.
“What we want to impress on them is ‘start small’ because some of the things we’ve done started three or four years ago and everybody wants to get where we are today – and they want to get there today – and that’s really not possible,” Allen said. “You have to start small, think big, train your people and then get out of their way. Our team starts and ends everyday looking for the next opportunity to improve process and performance, because everything we can improve will have a direct impact on our students, parents, staff and taxpayers.”