Scribbles Helps Prince George's County Schools Exit the 1950s and Enter the Information Age
Second-largest school district in Maryland
Enrollment: 136,000 students
Operates 208 schools and programs
Employs 20,000 staff and teachers
Scribbles solutions used: ScribOrder, ScribTransfer, ScribOnline, ScribChoice, ScribFolders, ScribForms, ScribEnroll, ScribPreK
Prince George's County Public Schools arrived at the 2015 school year with archives and current student records stored the same way they were in the 1950s–on an odd combination of microfilm, microfiche, and magnetic data tapes. Having such an outdated process did not align with serving the district’s mission to “provide a transformative educational experience anchored by excellence in equity – developing 21st century competencies and enabling each student’s unique brilliance to flourish in order to build empowered communities and a more inclusive and just world.” In 2016, the opportunity finally presented itself and records were securely digitized with Scribbles.
Since then, Scribbles has played an integral part in the way the records department serves students and families. We spoke with Gayle Huggins, the supervisor for the office of student records, transfers, and archival services for Prince George's County Public Schools to find out how things how things were going since coming on board with Scribbles.
Tell us a little bit about Prince George's County Public Schools.
Gayle: Prince George's County Public Schools is the second-largest school district in Maryland. It stretches over 499 square miles and has an enrollment of 136,000 students at  schools. We employ 20,000 Maryland residents.We have a small, but very dedicated, staff in the records department. Together, we provide a significant number of core services. We have a secretary and three document, archival, and control clerks. We have one vacancy and there's a record technician in the office. That's the whole support staff. We are ground zero for customer service inquiries and institutional records requests.
The support team is responsible for completing record requests, education verification, and student transfers. They answer all incoming calls and accommodate everyone who visits in person. The three record specialists provide training and support to record management teams in all of our 208 schools, so each of them has maybe 70 schools assigned to them (give or take a few). We have retirees volunteering as counseling specialists. They review graduate records to ensure each student has met graduation standards and make sure the records are compliant before we take custody of them. They also support many of our special projects and, as a result, we just won't let them retire!
How did things work before you worked with Scribbles? You've indicated you've only recently moved toward full digitization.
GH: In the old days, which were really just a few years ago, we had a microfilm office. The clerks worked through millions of microfiche and microfilm records a year, some of them decades old. These records were stored in different repositories, which made retrieval difficult, and there were different formats, which we needed obsolete machines to read. Because everything back then was handwritten, our clerks also had the challenge of reading script somebody wrote with a fountain pen in the '50s. As staff members retired, they took their experience with them and usually weren't replaced, which made it harder to keep up with all the records that needed scanning.
We eventually developed a ridiculously convoluted workflow to handle the demands of just this one office. There were different processes for backing up a single slide and issuing record requests, or answering customer inquiries. Sometimes the staff had to look for old records, for example, an alumni request from a 1980s graduate, in dusty boxes. The record we needed could've been stored as a microfiche, data tape, or some other obsolete technology.
What did you do about the problems?
GH: We became the Office of Student Records and Transfers and Archival Services. The little office did not have the time or staff to conduct quality assurance checks consistently. Schools took a really long time to prepare records for archival, too. We first partnered with Scribbles in 2016. Our department uses several integration solutions, ScribOrder, ScribOnline, and ScribTransfer. Our school system also uses ScribChoice for in-district transfers and choice schools. We're getting ready to deploy several other integration solutions for K-12 transfers. Over time, all of our repositories were converted to a cloud platform.
How has that been going?
GH: Scribbles has become our lifeline. We outsourced the scanning in the indexing, so the staff in our little office is no longer doing that. We increased our performance capacity tenfold, and now our team members can process up to 200 record requests a day. Scribbles provides us with ongoing support for all of that. They're fabulous! Scribbles passed our IT security audit with flying colors, so we don't have to worry about privacy or security issues. The data reports and audit trails make our work much easier. We can find things now.
One of the things that we have planned for our next steps is transitioning to a fully-automated system and going completely paperless. We hope to do it all in the next two to three years. As we grow in our partnership with Scribbles, we plan to introduce new technologies that manage student records in Prince George's Public Schools.
If your district is ready to go paperless, make records more accessible to students and families, and even generate revenue, fill out the form below to contact our team today.