DPS reaches the paperless paradise utilizing streamlined and secure online solutions from Scribbles Software.
Enrollment: 32,000+ students
53 schools make up Durham Public Schools
DPS is comprised of 5,054 employees
Monthly revenue generated through Scribbles: ~$5,400
Scribbles Solutions used: ScribOrder, ScribOnline, ScribChoice, ScribTransfer
Durham Public Schools operates in one of the most diverse and challenging environments in North Carolina. Home to more than 33,000 students from all backgrounds, DPS operates 53 campuses, many of which have won awards for consistently achieving high levels of student achievement and responsible administration.
Managing this network has created a tangled web of data, as sensitive student information has to be carefully transferred and stored, and widely separated school campuses have to coordinate records. COVID complicated things further, as tens of thousands of digital devices were distributed to students and had to be tracked from one school site to another.
The team at Scribbles Software had a talk with three district employees, Records Center Manager Donna Hamm, and technicians Zachary Wells and Amy Bass, to find out about the surprising ways ScribTransfer, the Scribbles Software solution for managing online student transfer requests, has been helping Durham Public Schools get through it all.
Tell us a little bit about Durham Public Schools.
Donna Hamm: Well, in Durham, we have 33,000 students and 53 schools. Durham is known as the city of medicine, and we have teaching hospitals here to our west, coupled with the research triangle park, so we’re a very transient community. We’re also very diverse, so there’s a lot of movement going around in Durham and that is in itself one of the reasons why we needed to go with ScribTransfer.
Can you tell us a little bit about what you do?
DH: In Durham Public Schools we have a record center where we are all about student records. I work with two records technicians who oversee records throughout the district. We also have records specialists at each of our 53 schools. I like to equate us to a wagon wheel with us as a central hub and our technicians as the spokes of the wheel. So it takes all of us working together to make the records department roll.
What made your district start using ScribTransfer?
DH: Well, ScribTransfer was part of a natural progression with us. We started using Advanced Imaging Systems (AIS) for our scanning back in 2004, and in 2012 we began the online requests [through ScribOrder, the Scribbles online student record request system]. Then, as things progressed and your new products were coming out, we thought we needed a better process for tracking student movement accountability. Cohort and ScribTransfer give us accountability and trackability, and those were the things that we needed.
How long did it take your team to get up and running with ScribTransfer?
DH: Well, that in itself was pretty amazing because it was approved in June 2019, and by August 1 we had a product that was up and running for the 2019-2020 school year. This product was up and running and I was trained in just two months.
You shared that your dropout rate improved. Can you tell us about that?
DH: As we all know, we can’t entirely prevent dropouts, but we can improve upon the reporting, the tracking, and the accountability, and that’s what ScribTransfer provides. In the past, we’ve depended on notebooks to record student movement. For example, when a student leaves Durham Public Schools, we rely on a quote records request to verify which new school the student has indeed gone to. That request is logged into a notebook, then it’s placed on the shelf, and then as you can imagine, years go by, personnel changes and the sheets in the notebook are lost. But we no longer have those problems with ScribTransfer.
Amy Bass: The proof is in the pudding with our dropouts. The reporting tools associated with ScribTransfer are crucial to the PowerSchool team. At DPS, we used to have multiple question marks in Cohort for any given student. These are hard to clear up normally, but using ScribTransfer for document transfer lets us clear them all out before the school year even started.
You said ScribTransfer was all in place before COVID. So with all the movement during the pandemic, was ScribTransfer helpful in locating students?
Zachary Wells: Yeah, it absolutely was. ScribTransfer has been vital mainly for tracking and accountability, but also for knowing where the student is going. With the reports that ScribTransfer offers, we can show exactly where our students are moving to, whether that’s a different county district or charter or private schools, and we can pull those reports for our district and principal to make their job a lot easier. So this has been a real eye-opener during the COVID pandemic.
What about ScribTransfer speeds versus older technology, like a fax machine, or even the mail?
DH: We all know that there are always going to be people who put up a fight and hate something new, and they’re always going to complain. But we are adamant that ScribTransfer is our procedure. We could always talk about fax machine security. As in, who’s standing at the other end of the fax? Could someone walk by and take a student’s identity? Yes, they could. And how many fax machines are still working? I’ve talked to so many schools where they just laugh when talking about their fax machine because it’s down all the time. So when it is down, how are you going to send records? If you’re going to send them in the mail, you’re going to be dependent upon the U.S. Postal Service to send student records. If you are using ScribTransfer, a school can go online and create an account to handle it all. In our experience, it just takes a few hours. It just doesn’t take long at all for the schools to be verified and to make a request for records that same day. If we have the requested records at our end, we can upload and send them immediately.
What other ways has ScribTransfer helped Durham Public Schools?
AB: Since we are the hub, we can follow up on what is done and not done by the schools in our district. When we pull an order and take a look at it, we can see any conversations between both schools, and there’s often someone saying, “Hey, I’m out of the office but I’ll get this taken care of,” or, “I’m still looking for this document.” Whatever is going on. We can see in the timeline when some items were opened and created, and we can see when some items were sent. We can also see whether anything has been missed because the other school can drop a line saying, “Hey, we didn’t get the birth certificate!” We can open those items and take a look, which makes it much easier to just reach out to or assist on our end if we have access to something. If it’s in PowerSchool, sometimes we’ll just go ahead and handle it, but if it’s a birth certificate or something in a physical folder, we reach out to the school and make sure it gets handled.
If you could give another district advice about using ScribTransfer, what would you share?
DH: If ScribTransfer is your procedure, just stick to your plan. I learned this little piece of advice in an earlier seminar during the beginning of COVID when a question was asked about procedures and whatnot. Yes, it is mandated that we send records, but it’s not mandated how we send these records and ScribTransfer is the way in which Durham Public Schools send records. It truly has worked for us.
ZW: ScribTransfer has also helped us with our device retrieval. We’re able to message the new school for assistance if a student leaves and carries one of our devices with them. So working together with that new school has been very helpful.
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