Education Case Studies
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Jamestown School District
Area schools share the cost and gain superior records management and business process automation. Over the past several years, New York State has focused on Record Managers sharing services in an effort to decrease operating costs and thus reduce the amount of tax dollars needed by individual school districts throughout the state. One of these programs is the Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund (LGRMIF) which focuses on shared services grants. Jamestown School District’s Director, Karen Briner-Peterson, describes how Jamestown’s Laserfiche system helps neighboring communities save money through shared document management resources: “These grants will be awarded to school districts and municipalities who can prove their commitment to long-term records management solutions between two or more entities.”
The Jamestown Public School District is developing partnerships with a growing number of school districts in its area (including the Fredonia CSD, Southwestern CSD, and Panama CSD) to allow them access to Jamestown’s Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system. Several school districts in the greater Jamestown area have begun to share business officials and other human resources personnel in order to reduce costs. Briner-Peterson adds, “At Jamestown, we will work with the school districts that share personnel, as it will allow those officials to work at one school site and still be able to access the records of the other school districts’ that they work for. There are currently 17 school districts in our county and over the next fi ve years, we want to provide the remaining 13 school districts that don’t currently use our ECM system with the opportunity to access it at very little cost to them.”
Laserfiche Delivers Advanced Document Management along with a Disaster Recovery Plan
Located on the southern shores of Chautauqua Lake, Jamestown, NY, is the largest city in picturesque Chautauqua County. The Jamestown Public Schools serve approximately 5,000 students from pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade at six neighborhood elementary schools, three middle schools and one comprehensive high school.
In 2004, the district received funding from the NYS LGRMIF to hire a records management expert to examine the feasibility of implementing document management in the HR department. By 2005, a selection committee of the district’s HR director, IS director and records management coordinator were interviewing document management vendors. “Although another vendor’s ‘unlimited user licenses’ offer was attractive from a fiscal standpoint, our selection committee was concerned that if the product wasn’t user-friendly, unlimited licenses would not make the HR staff, or any other department’s employees, more willing to use it,” says Briner-Peterson. “After a lot of research, we decided Laserfiche would best suit our needs.”
Once Laserfiche was installed, staff began with a pilot project to scan all personnel files into the system, with plans to eventually expand the project to other administrative areas and school buildings as resources and time allowed. The need for multiple file cabinets was immediately eliminated: staff designed their file structure to include five sub-folders (personnel, payroll, training, insurance and medical), set up so they could place security tags on confidential files. “Because all this information is confidential, we had to restrict access to everyone except the District Superintendent and two of our assistant superintendents,” Briner-Peterson says. And just as important is the peace of mind that Briner-Peterson and her staff enjoy knowing Jamestown’s records are finally safe, whatever may happen. “9/11 and Hurricane Katrina just proved the need to be able to continue running a business or government office immediately after a crisis,” she says. “Our largest concern was that we had no disaster plan in place. If water pipes broke or a fire started, we had no ability to recreate documents that could not be easily replaced.” All of the district’s documents are retrievable through Laserfiche WebLink so that, in case of disaster, district maintenance employees, administrators and local emergency personnel can immediately access information. In fact, Briner-Peterson is so confident in Laserfiche that she’s begun moving original hardcopy personnel files offsite to the district’s new records storage facility. “Laserfiche is the foundation of our district disaster recovery plan,” she says. “Combined with our HR and payroll software, Laserfiche hasn’t just saved us time and money, but has also enabled us to be up and running at an offsite location within a matter of hours after a disaster.”
While the district initially planned only a small pilot project to scan personnel files, staff soon found new and unexpected benefits from their Laserfiche system. “Our reseller General Code provided us with a modular, scalable system we could build on as time and resources allowed,” says Briner-Peterson. “In our estimation, the most unexpected benefit of Laserfiche is that we’ve been able to use it for reasons that our selection committee could never have envisioned.”
- Managing the maintenance department’s documents. Formerly disorganized architectural drawings, schematics and operations manuals are organized chronologically by school, so they’re easily accessible to maintenance employees, administrators and first responders in the case of a disaster.
- Creating paperless Board of Education meetings. Meeting packets could end up being several hundred pages long. Now, staff use Laserfiche Plus to create CDs of documents for each board member. Not only is less paper wasted, confidential information is more secure.
- Simplifying the legal process. The district’s HR director uses Laserfiche to easily store, present and disseminate information during legal proceedings. Documents are easily searchable, and are presented to opposing counsel on CD.
- Tracking provision history during collective bargaining. All collective bargaining agreements between the district and its seven unions are stored in Laserfiche. When a provision is questioned, applicable contract provisions are easily located in minutes, instead of hours.
- Handling FOIA requests. Instead of redacting paper documents by copying a document, blacking out information and recopying the document so redacted information can’t be seen, staff simply redact the document in Laserfiche. Using the whiteout redaction tool means that readers don’t see how many words or letters were removed.
- Searching multiple documents. Instead of manually searching 580 personnel files for requests to transfer, a simple search for the word “transfer” pulled up a list of teachers willing to transfer—in less than ten minutes.
- Accessing permanent student record cards and transcripts. Once permanent student record cards and transcripts are transferred to the District’s Records Center, they are scanned into Laserfiche. The information is burned to CDs and sent to the High School’s Guidance Department, as they receive the majority of these records requests.
“Our confidence in Laserfiche enables us to reach out to other district departments—so we continue to find new and innovative ways to use it,” says Briner-Peterson.