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St. Mary's school board purchases program that benefits all

The St. Mary’s school board on Wednesday approved half a million dollars in software enhancements that can benefit multiple departments.

Four department heads — from fiscal services, human resources, assessment and accountability and strategic planning and communications — requested the school board approve enhancements to PowerSchool, which touches most digital aspects of students’ and teachers’ lives.

Tammy McCourt, assistant superintendent for fiscal services and human resources, said it supports systems like eSchoolPLUS, which powers the Home Access Center, HAC, and the Teacher Access Center, TAC, eFinancePLUS, Performance Matters Assessment and Analytics, Unified Talent Applicant Tracking and Unified Talent Professional Learning.

Processing employee records can be streamlined through this program, Dale Farrell, director of human resources, said. Employees can go online to update tax and workers comp forms and it sends reminders for forms that have not been completed.

“And it allows us to capture those forms all in one place online,” he said.

It will also change the way they recruit. “Recruitment has changed drastically in the last two weeks,” Farrell said adding that almost every job fair they signed up for has been canceled due to the new coronavirus.

With the new program, recruitment can be done virtually and candidates can build profiles through the Unified Talent feature.

Jeff Maher, chief strategic officer, said the program is also capable of leadership performance assessments, more interactive data analyses and reporting “and then the additional element, professional development.”

Alex Jaffurs, the assessment and accountability officer, talked about the feature Schoology and said the program can bring together programs like TAC and HAC.

“So the whole idea is everything is integrated,” he said.

Schoology can share assignments and final grades, and hold student data like attendance and rostering.

“Families will be able to register our students online,” Jaffurs said.

He added the program was tested with the Esperanza Middle School community and it was successful. They liked that it saved time and energy.

And, the registration and enrollment feature can be done on mobile devices and offers reporting of critical safety information.

Karin Bailey, chair of the school board, asked how the program’s attendance feature will interact with Raptor, a security system the school board approved in November that also monitors attendance and cost $69,472 in licensing and $14,720 in additional hardware.

Superintendent Scott Smith said Raptor will be pulling all the student data from Schoology.

McCourt said the ongoing annual cost for PowerSchool licenses for current and enhanced programs will be $553,726.

Smith said they have been negotiating the price for about three months and have received a “deeply discounted rate.”

“They want to have systems that buy everything in the wheel so they can ultimately be the sole provider,” he said.

The superintendent said the goal to start running it next school year, have a year-long training for employees and have it available to everyone in 2022 or 2023.

Twitter: @KristenEntNews

Twitter: @KristenEntNews