B.C. school district centralizes data for budget planning

A new Web-based student management system is enabling British Columbia’s School District No. 59 to tailor its student assessments and keep better track of crucial student data.

The data will be used at the end of September

by the province’s education ministry to determine how much money the district will receive for the coming school year.

The software, Chancery SMS 4.0, offers centralized management of student data, something Bill Deith, assistant superintendant and secretary treasurer for School District No. 59, also known as Peace River South, can appreciate. The District has 21 buildings in three centres, each 100 km apart, and rural areas roughly 60 km from the centres. Deith said the central management is a big improvement over the old system, in which each school sent in their data for processing.

“”We just go to the server and say ‘give me the data,’ and done,”” Deith said. “”It makes it so much easier.””

According to Ron Rheinheimer, vice-president of sales and marketing for Burnaby-based Chancery Software Ltd., a real-time centralized management makes the data-gathering process more accurate as well as easier. A single installation also purports to reduce the cost of ownership. Rheinheimer added it offers a complete picture of student information, including school attendance, discipline matters, special awards, scheduling and grades.

One feature of SMS Chancery 4.0 praised by Deith is a Gradebook that allows schools to customize their grading processes, enabling grade reports that more accurately reflect the student1s performance in the eyes of the administration. Deith said he likes the ability to choose between a point-based or percentage-based system and adds SMS Chancery 4.0 offers a more flexibility in this area than MacSchool, another Chancery product the district previously used.

“”No two schools have the same honour roll system. There’s little subtleties and this will allow that as well,”” he said. “”We think we’re going into a package that has enough flexibility to do whatever we want.””

Other features of the K-12 solution include support for most platforms, role-based functionality, allowing different users to access different dashboards and expanded scheduling for management of staff and building space, as well as students. But what perhaps will most change the student and parent experience in Peace River South when classes start again in the fall is a school-to-home Web portal that will give parents real-time information on the attendance and performance of their children. Chancery has offered the technology for a couple of years, but it will get it’s debut in School District No. 59 in September.

“”The kids knowing their parents could go online and access their grades has increased certain kids1 performance,”” Rheinheimer said.

Rheinheimer and Joan Streefkerk, Chancery’s vice-president of strategic relationships, said they get inquiries from schools about the system’s security but stressed it is safe from teenage hackers, despite their past exploits.

“”If millions of dollars of financial information is online, then the Web can be as secure as a file folder in a principal’s office,”” Rheinheimer said.

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