Another school year is winding down — and in some districts, it’s already over. While that might mean a huge sigh of relief for some teachers and administrators and a focus shift to their well-earned vacation time, it also marks a crucial transition in any calendar year for a school district.
When classes end or down-shift to just summer classes, school districts often focus on improving their processes, protocols, and logistics in advance of the next school year. That next school year, of course, always seems to arrive faster than you expect.
Something you may have been putting off over the last few summers?
Updating your filing structure.
Documentation is a crucial part of any education system. Line up 100 students and do a word association with them around the term ‘permanent record’ and you’ll see the outcome (heck, that might work with 100 adults too). But, the process of digitizing everything in your cabinets and storage rooms can seem daunting. You also might not know all the questions you need to ask about security of files, how the process works, and more.
We suggest you start here, with a look at some of the work we did for Milan Special School District in Tennessee. This will give you a good overview of some of the challenges and concerns they faced before they went through a ‘summer cleaning’ process:
We can help you set a Document Management System — and we can walk you through any questions and concerns you may have. Some of the core tenets people tend to bring up when we begin this process with school systems include:
Security: This is a logical one, as data on most of your students needs to be protected — both externally (subject to hacking) and internally (only certain members of your staff can see certain files). We set up strict user access guidelines so that no one can poke around in folders they shouldn’t have access to. Those user guidelines can also be easily adjusted by administrators if roles shift.
File retention: Data loss is a huge problem for everyone from corporations to school districts. Any document management system you use needs to have safeguards in place to prevent data loss as much as possible (it’s not always preventable because human error does occur). There also needs to be a system to recover lost data within an acceptable period of time. We can walk you through all this.
Indexing: If you’re still working with filing cabinets and mostly paper documents, you’ve probably seen a different version of this problem. You absolutely need to find a file on one student and have seemingly looked everywhere, right? You can’t find it. It’s not at all where it needs to be or should be. Finally, one of your co-workers shows you how to find it — and it’s in a totally illogical place based on the processes you’ve developed. Well, digital document management is supposed to make that better and easier to follow, but the systems in place need to be intuitive for everyone to use. This way, files don’t get lost or ‘hidden’ from the people who need access the most. We can also walk you through these set-ups.
The saying used to be, ‘There’s no time like the present.’ In reality, for school districts? There’s no time like the summer. Get ready for the ‘16-’17 school year by ramping up digital document management process this summer.
A version of this article was originally published as Summer’s No Picnic: School System Updates with Content Management by Daniel Cochran on May 17th, 2016.