Brevard Public Schools Uses Scribbles to Help Engage Students Through Choice Programs
49th largest district in the U.S.
Enrollment: 77,000 students
Operates 114 schools and programs
Employs 9,300 staff and teachers
Monthly revenue generated through Scribbles: ~$4,700
Scribbles solutions used: ScribOrder, ScribChoice
Brevard Public Schools serves over 73,000 students along Florida's Atlantic coast. Striving to serve the district’s mission “to serve every student with excellence as the standard," the district prioritizes providing opportunities for students through its robust school choice program. Working under Florida state law, the district has a hefty amount of documentation requirements that were overwhelming to keep up with before bringing in Scribbles. We sat down with Stephanie Archer to hear about her experience as the director of open enrollment for charter and district schools.
Tell us a little bit about Brevard Public Schools.
Stephanie: Brevard Public Schools stretches along the Space Coast area. What's unique about us is that we are 72 miles long and only 25 miles wide, which presents us with geographical challenges. In that long, skinny area, we have 73,326 students across the whole district. So, unlike districts in other areas of the nation, we are not a community school board, but an entire county school board. We have 54 programs, 52 elementary schools, 36 secondary campuses, and 12 charters. We also have an amazing graduation rate. Our schools offer career and technical education along with collegiate dual enrollment, which is connected to the state college in our area. We offer adult education and virtual education.
Can you explain your role within the district?
SA: As director of open enrollment, I'm assigned to elementary leading and learning, although every portion of what I do requires servicing all schools in the district. I supervise, along with our assistant director, our data specialist and my secretary, and the 12 charters to make sure they are in compliance with the law and their contractual obligations. Some of these obligations include monitoring student achievements and even their fiscal responsibilities. As part of the open enrollment, we have statutory language that allows our parents to exercise the choice to go to a school other than the one in their assigned neighborhood. That, by itself, is almost a year-long open enrollment process. I also supervise the principals of nine traditional elementary schools.
Can you share how your choice system works?
SA:Our district is statutorily required to have opportunities for different choices for parents who want their kids to go to different schools. When I first came into the office, the language of the statute was really confusing to parents. We shored up our language and adopted what we call the educational program opportunity. The operative word is "program," where parents choose the curriculum they want [their children] to pursue. Families can pick between, for example, the aviation technology course track, participate in Cambridge, or study culinary. We have 54 programs families can choose from.
What's your favorite choice program?
SA: I love that our children have Cambridge and IB that start in our middle school and can go into our high schools where they can graduate with international diplomas. They can get Bright Future scholarship money to go on to college. I think my personal favorite is one that we grew from the ground up called Launch Institute. It took a couple of years to make it happen, but it is based on project-based learning. The purpose was to engage that middle of the road kid. We had oodles of stuff for our gifted and driven kids, but this if for the kids going down a more conventional track. We often found that students who jumped in here were the ones who were previously disengaged in their coursework, but suddenly became totally involved. They were excited and we saw less disciplinary issues, along with better attendance out of these kids. It was a perfect fit. I think that's my personal favorite because it's one we helped develop.
How has ScribChoice made a difference for Brevard?
SA: It's made a huge difference. The program was adopted shortly before I came into office. We had the contract for about four months before I started, so we were just getting into our processes. Before ScribChoice came in, we were buried in the paperwork. There were lots of human errors in trying to get that paperwork to the sending and receiving schools as well as getting the right approvals. Since the change, the ease of processing that ScribChoice has offered us has been tremendous. It archives the data in the information, so we can always go back and look at what's been done and who did it. If a parent has a question, we can go back and go, "Oh, well, you did this application on this date at this time." The time/date stamps are also important, especially when it comes to the school enrollment lottery.
Have you noticed that ScribChoice changed your relationship with families?
SA: Yes, to a degree. When we first we started with Scribbles, parents had to start with an application fresh every year. A few years ago, Scribbles developed a family dashboard, which has been a saving grace. So [families] actually have an account that stays open as long as they have children in the district. It's all real-time, so that's been super helpful because now parents don't have to call the schools every time they have a question or call our office.
It certainly has made the waiting list easier to manage for parents. Not only that, but the parents, depending on their schedules, can do these applications 24/7. So it's not just during business hours and it really has made things easier. It's user friendly and allows everyone in the office to coach families and walk them through the enrollment process.
What did completing a lottery for Brevard look like before ScribChoice?
SA: It was rather humorous. When I first came in, it was everything from ping pong balls and pieces of paper, to some crazy electronic lottery that they just found online. They had no way to archive the results. We literally had to take a video of each lottery draw. It was different at every school, so there was no standardization. The lottery that we first started with was our choice schools. And then we realized, once we got hold of the electronic lottery through Scribbles, the only non-biased way was to take 100 applications for 50 seats and handle them all fairly and transparently.
What would you say to others that are considering ScribChoice for their school?
SA: ScribChoice is amazing. I know that there are other companies out there, but it seems they want to nickel and dime you to death with tons of add-ons and poor support. It's overwhelming without ScribChoice. It is wonderful technology that's quite easy to use and we love it.
If your district is ready to go paperless, make your school choice application process simple for students and families, and even generate revenue, fill out the form below to contact our team today.