Texas district took a diverse path to unifying system operations
Deer Park ISD, located outside of Houston, started 2008 with all its systems in place and no major implementations or changes on the horizon. But within a year, the district had three major new system installations underway.
The first domino to fall was the district's financial system. For several years, administrators had been encouraged to replace an old bookkeeping system with a true accounting system. Finally, in January 2009 the district heeded its auditors' advice and started looking for a new financial system.
With 12,500 students, 15 schools and 900 teachers, Deer Park ISD faced a significant challenge when — at the same time the accounting department was investigating a new financial system—the student information system needed to be replaced. Sue Pike, the district's director of information systems, embarked on a search for a replacement SIS in the spring of 2009.
Independently, both departments settled on products from Tyler Technologies, a Dallas company that provides information management solutions and services for school districts and other public sector clients. Munis?, a system that integrates general ledger, accounts payable, payroll and human resource/staff management functions, was chosen for financial applications, and Tyler SIS was selected as the student management system.
"We didn't start out to consolidate under the same vendor," said Pike. "We agreed that we were going to choose the best product. Our choices would have to be strong enough to stand on their own."
But once the district realized that two Tyler products had independently been selected, it was decided to seek other solutions from the company as well. That led to the selection of Versatrans for transportation routing and scheduling, and Tyler Pulse, an information warehouse that processes data from several different applications into immediately available management information delivered via browsers, spreadsheets and other standard desktop tools.
When both those products are fully implemented later this year, Deer Park will be fully integrated on Tyler products. The advantages of integration are significant, Pike explained. Versatrans, for example, integrates with Munis so that fi eld trips are automatically accounted for in budgeting programs. The Tyler SIS integration makes routing an automatic rather than a manual process—one that had taken a significant amount of time in Pike's department previously.
"I think of how much time I spent on data cleanup, and now my job can actually change to analyzing the data," she said. "I can now start using the data to give us predictions." Where the district's previous student information system was less user friendly, Tyler SIS off ers reports that are more accessible to teachers and administrators. "Rather than reacting to something, we can anticipate what is coming up in accountability, testing and other indicators," Pike said. "Whenever you have a better story about your kids you're going to do a better job educating them."
In addition, easier access to data is a significant improvement for the district's technology department. "Our programmers used to write complicated queries, but I was the only one to benefit from the information," said Pike. "Now it is very easy to develop new queries and push them out to other users, so it can be used to inform district, school and classroom decision-making and planning."
In the last year, the district has gone through a significant amount of change, and Pike credits the helpful Tyler implementation team and "our very unusual and supportive group of users" for making the transition work.
Although Versatrans was not live for the first day of school, Tyler SIS and Munis were both operational and integrated. Pike's initial assessment? "We have never had a better first day in the 10 years I've been here."
For more information, please visit www.tylertech.com.