Smaller school districts face a number of challenges, the toughest of which is dealing with limited resources.
To help small schools and districts save money by maximizing their investments and getting the most “bang for their buck,” below are 9 things to consider when choosing a Student Information solution (SIS).
1. What It Offers
Make sure the Student Information system offers a broad enough range of tools, modules, and functions that the majority of your departments and personnel can get some use out of it. If the SIS is too narrow in its functionality, you may end up needing to buy more software down the road, which will cost you more money.
2. What It Doesn’t Offer
In contrast to number 1 above, don’t waste money paying for a system that offers too many extra tools. It may seem like a “bonus” in theory before you implement the system, but you likely will change your mind once you start using it and discover that you’re paying for features that you don’t need and don’t use.
Will you need to replace your infrastructure, or can you use what you already have to implement the new SIS? This is a major cost that sometimes goes overlooked or gets tacked on after the fact, so be sure to find out before you purchase your SIS.
A Student Information system that integrates well with other software will end up costing your small school less money than it would to use a bunch of separate solutions. The reason? There is less overlap in functionality, which means that you can do more work with fewer tools. It’s the same reason number 2 above will save you money.
5. Learning Curve
As with any software, your SIS should be easy to learn and easy to use so that you don’t waste more labor hours than are necessary when your team begins using the system.
When it comes to Support, you need to look beyond the software itself to the company that is selling it. Make sure the software company offers responsive support so that if you encounter an issue while using the Student Information system, you can resolve it quickly. Otherwise, you could end up wasting money by paying for an SIS that isn’t working.
We at Harris School Solutions (HSS), for example, offer highly responsive, proactive support. This means that we actively and regularly reach out to you with software updates and ask for your feedback to see what enhancements we could make in the future so that you can get the most out of your software. If the software company from which you’re considering purchasing software doesn’t make Support a priority, you may want to reconsider purchasing from that company.
7. Reliable reporting
An SIS that offers a way to report accurately and easily not only will save you time (and as we all know: time is money), but also it will help to ensure that your reports are submitted correctly to local, state, and federal agencies, which will help your school to get all the funding it deserves.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of smaller schools is that they are able to be nimble. They’re able to provide more of an individualized education experience, make adjustments more quickly, and take advantage of unique opportunities by being flexible in ways that larger school districts may be unable to match.
Since flexibility is one of the keys to the success of small school districts, then, why would you want to install an SIS with limited flexibility?
Make sure any SIS you choose is as flexible as your school is so it can keep up with your school’s unique needs.
While we’ve just discussed 8 important attributes to look for in a Student Information system, remember: the best way to ensure that you get the most bang for your buck when choosing an SIS is to find one that has been designed and built specifically for use by smaller schools and districts. Even if you find a generalized solution that approximates what you need, you may uncover various shortcomings down the road if the system wasn’t designed from the start with smaller schools in mind. Instead, it’s best to look for an SIS that was built specifically for your unique needs as a small school.
Start your search by checking out HSS’ own SIS, go.edustar, designed and built exclusively for smaller schools and districts.
Click below to learn about our very own small-school SIS.