NEWS - HYBRID ECM PLATFORM INNOVATION!

Edmonton Public Schools

Results

  • Electronic records keeping for student and employee documents
  • Saved one million dollars by digitizing records
  • Improved compliance with Provincial regulations
  • Improved access to specialized student evaluations
  • Reduced the need to recreate assessment documents
  • Established retention policies
  • Streamlined the review of new hire applications
  • Record system manages over 1.6 million documents

Challenge

Edmonton Public Schools is the second largest school district in Canada’s Alberta Province providing schooling to over 80,000 students and managing 200 schools. A 2006 audit discovered that the district was only 60 percent compliant with regards to the required documentation for special needs students. The district was missing individual assessments for 40 percent of special needs students because the documents were either not available or lost when the student transferred between districts. As a result, some reports needed to be re-done at a cost of $1000 to $1500 per report.

The district also centrally stored and managed paper employee files for all its 12,000 employees. The district was outgrowing its storage space and the paper system made the hiring process inefficient. All hiring managers had to travel to the central office to review applications – with multiple managers often wanting to view the same application.

It was clear that the school district needed to do something about its document management challenges which also included meeting new rules passed by the Alberta Province regarding the retention of student discipline letters. The district needed to move from its paper-based processes to an electronic student and employee records management system. It needed a versatile document management system that would integrate with legacy systems, be easy to use and have a low cost of ownership.

Solution

With 12,000 teachers and administrators needing access to specialized student assessments, proprietary systems that used a per seat license were cost prohibitive. After seeing Alfresco in action at Alberta’s Ministry for Seniors, the Edmonton Public Schools Records Management and IT department knew it was the right fit for the district.

Alfresco provides a low cost of ownership without costly seat licenses. Support for open standards, made it easy to integrate Alfresco with the district’s existing systems including a Student Information System that maintains the student enrollment and generates student progress reports. Now, when a student enrolls or progress reports are created, they are automatically stored in Alfresco.

The IT department built an information architecture and taxonomy structure in Alfresco using folders and document types to help manage records and categorize them. The district can define unique metadata for each document to support their requirements. It also added retention policies to documents to ensure that schools comply with regulations.

The project team developed a scanning interface for loading specialized student assessments into the system from scanning locations throughout the district. Metadata is pulled from the Student Information System as the document is scanned and stored in Alfresco. The district can now keep electronic records of all assessments completed and provide paper copies for schools that request them upon transfer. In addition, teachers have online access to the appropriate reports so they can better serve the student.

With electronic student records in place, the project team worked on scanning and converting its employee records into electronic form for storage in Alfresco. Using Kodak Capture Pro and a custom built scanning interface, Critical Control, a consulting company, inventoried and scanned over 14,920 employee files, with each file containing six subfolders. This amounted to 1.6 million images, and 767 boxes of records. Every folder and subfolder received a barcode separator page for scanning, and every scanned document was audited by the district to ensure it had correct metadata.

The employee records system has streamlined the hiring process by making applicant information available online eliminating the need for hiring managers to travel to the central office to review applications and records.

It is estimated that the district has saved $200,000 in time and resources.

Conclusion

  • Established one consistent student records system that can be accessed by multiple users, even from outside the district through the district portal.
  • Estimated savings of over one million dollars by reducing administrative time; lowering printing and paper costs; reduction in the cost of replacing lost documents; and freeing up storage space.
  • Automated document flow from Student Information Systems, central scanning stations and other various sites to the Alfresco repository.
  • Maintain compliance standards for specialized student assessments.
  • In 2011, 14,731 staff members used the student record system 96,938 times, with an average of 265 uses a day.

What’s Next

The district is in the process of developing an online request system for schools requesting student documentation. Documents will be encrypted and schools will receive the files electronically. The system will save the district time and resources from having to process, print and mail student files. It will also allow the district to maintain a digital copy of all files.

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