CCS Uses ScribTransfer to Save Cash, Track Students, and Comply With State Law
Ohio's largest school district
Enrollment: 47,000 students
Operates 112 schools
Employs 9,000 staff and teachers
Monthly revenue generated through Scribbles: ~$5,000
Scribbles Solutions used: ScribOrder, ScribTransfer
Columbus City Schools’ mission is for students to be highly educated, prepared for leadership and service, and empowered for success as a citizen in a global community. Ensuring student records are well taken care of is integral to student success, so the CCS team was determined to evaluate and improve their current processes. Before the district adopted ScribTransfer, CCS schools were all handling record requests in different ways, frequently using methods that hadn't changed in nearly a century. This was not only inefficient, expensive, and slow, it opened the door to potential privacy act violations. We sat down with Tonya Freeman and Bonny Durr from Columbus City Schools to ask about the difference they've seen since implementing ScribTransfer for a streamlined records process.
What can you tell us about Columbus City Schools’ process before Scribbles?
Tonya Freeman: Each CCS school building had many, many student cumulative records. Several years ago I had the opportunity to form a committee to work on documentation for handling those records. It was a bit overwhelming at first since it was a new position for me. We started by forming the committee and gathering secretaries from the different school sites to see what they were doing with the records. It quickly became obvious that everybody was keeping the documents required by law, but everyone was doing it a little bit differently. They all had different ways of organizing their records and handling record requests.
Where does Scribbles come in?
TF: Our first job was to make the record-keeping process uniform at all school sites. The first thing was to find a way to more easily retrieve the records and answer record requests. So we started a big project of digitizing our alumni records. Once we got that project on its way, we decided we needed a better way to respond to requests. We were pretty fortunate to find ScribOrder. We went through implementation and were up and running by 2017. The Scribbles team did a fabulous job training all of our high school secretaries on how to fulfill the requests and both they and our alumni had nothing but positive things to say about it. Just during 2019, we processed over 8,000 alumni record requests.
After a couple of years of using ScribOrder for our alumni requests, we were introduced to ScribTransfer. Scribbles did training for our secretaries in May of 2019. I emailed all of our surrounding districts, including the local private schools and charter schools, and told them we were going to be implementing the ScribTransfer process as of August 1. We did a lot of work getting the other districts on board with what we were doing. By the target date, we took a very hard-line approach that we would not accept any more record requests via fax or any other way, except through the ScribTransfer process.
Once the other districts created their accounts, we got nothing but positive feedback from them. Everyone has been thrilled with being able to submit a request, track the request, and receive it electronically. We've done several thousand record request transfers for our students by now, and we've had nothing but good feedback.
Was it hard for the other districts to create their accounts?
TF: Not at all. They just simply go in and put in a little bit of information and Scribbles handles the entire verification process. It's very secure that way once they create their account. And it's very easy to do.
Can you speak about the transfer process after verification?
Bonny Durr: Before the implementation of ScribTransfer, secretaries in our district handled record requests in a variety of ways, such as fax, email, driving back and forth, U.S. Mail and UPS or FedEx. ScribTransfer has streamlined this process for us with a uniform method. The ScribTransfer process keeps record requests for us in an organized, manageable manner that secretaries can easily respond to. Ohio law dictates that record requests have to be responded to within three business days, and ScribTransfer is an efficient method for tracking compliance with that law. The requester is also kept informed through status updates as the request moves through the process. The audit trail of who fulfilled a request has also been instrumental in providing additional professional development.
Were these the key drivers for implementing ScribTransfer?
TF: Yes, the three business days requirement was a big push to make sure that we have at least responded within that window. The system has also been fantastic for allowing us to see how many requests we have and how long they've been pending. You may see some that are 30 and 60 days pending, but when you go back and look at those requests, you can see that they have been responded to, even if we had to hold them up for more information.
We have a good example of that in the process to withdraw a student to another school. We worked with the ScribOrder team to make the request a downloadable PDF we can upload into the student's electronic cumulative file to show we received that request and are able to withdraw the student.
ScribTransfer has also saved Columbus City Schools a lot of money. In the past, we would email, fax or mail student records, which could result in a FERPA violation. With ScribTransfer, we have been able to [securely] transfer records. The switch also saved us over $16,000 just in postage, plus maybe $12,000 in printing and copying fees. There was also a significant increase in employee productivity. There were no more lost records or duplicate requests. So we're really thrilled that some of those results came from ScribTransfer.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the real-time reporting on transfer students?
TF: Transfer reports allow us to see where students are transferring. It also allows us to easily sort records at the central office level by school. If I want to see how many requests are pending at one of our specific schools, all I have to do is sort it. And I can run an Excel spreadsheet and see how many they've processed, how many they have pending, how many are internal and how many are external. I can get all the information I need right there at my fingertips with this report.
What do you think is the greatest benefit so far from implementing ScribTransfer?
TF: That it's a uniform process; everyone is doing it the same way so that's easy to keep up with. And definitely the improvement to professional development. Because we can see every transaction in the logs, we can easily identify which staff member made which request and counsel or retrain as needed, which is a time saver.
When it comes to ScribOrder, what have you seen as a benefit?
TF: Well, we have been able to generate funds to pay for the solution itself and we have actually made money from ScribOrder. We are able to put that money back toward digitizing more records and improving that process more and more.
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