St. Alcuin Montessori

St. Alcuin Montessori Saves Time, Reduces Error, and Better Serves its Constituents with Blackbaud Total School Solution

St. Alcuin inspires students to reach their highest levels of personal and academic achievement, guides them to become compassionate global citizens, and prepares them to embrace challenges with confidence and innovation by providing the ideal Montessori and International Baccalaureate education.

Challenge

St. Alcuin Montessori School in Dallas, TX was like many other schools when it came to technology tools. The school had a database for its development needs, a financial application for its business office, a web site provider and a provider for online admission forms. Looking from the outside the school could appear technologically progressive. It had a website that offered admissions’ information and much of the functionality expected by parents. St. Alcuin also communicated with parents via email and utilized online attendance tools in the classroom.

Behind the scenes was a completely different story. The school’s database and other systems were ineffective in delivering the necessary reports and information required to make well-informed business decisions. The school’s database wasn’t built to support development needs and became more of a hindrance than an enabler. On top of this, the school had about four different applications that all collected and maintained data, but did not easily share data.

According to Bunny Ridenour, associate head of school for advancement at St. Alcuin Montessori School, the plug-in for its online admissions tool to its newly purchased Raiser’s Edge database didn’t work.

As often is the case, they thought it would and were disappointed to find out that it didn’t.

With approximately 500 students enrolled at the School and the number gradually increasing, St. Alcuin needed to ease these challenges and address the pains of its staff. The key was to ensure accurate reporting across its financial, development and student systems.

Solution

St. Alcuin selected Blackbaud’s The Raiser’s Edge® and The Financial Edge®. Originally the school purchased the two products to ensure a more streamlined data sharing process between its development and business offices. It also wanted to include data from its student information and admissions office. With The Education Edge™, The Raiser’s Edge, and The Financial Edge the school would be able to ensure that data among these different offices was consistent and accurate, which would lead to more accurate reporting, and ultimately empower the school to make better decisions and better serve its stakeholders.

Around this same time, the school began to evaluate its website and decided it was time to update the look. With its previous vendor, the school was not in control of its website. Any changes or updates had to be done by the provider making it almost impossible for the school to respond in the quick and timely manner that is expected by parents today. Additionally, the website’s database didn’t interact with the school’s other databases or applications. Blackbaud® NetCommunity™ and Online Campus Community™ met all the school’s website requirements.

“It ultimately came down to the interaction between the various applications,” Ridenour said. “Why would we pay someone else or another vendor, to go through steps to either update our site or create a way for our site to speak to our other systems when we can get it all together? It didn’t make sense.”

Online Campus Community from Blackbaud includes online admissions and online re-enrollment. Online admissions and re-enrollment allows the school to create and update forms for inquiries and applications, accept application fees online, keep potential and returning students informed of their status and next steps, and automatically standardize data and transfer to the Education Edge after approval.

“With Online Admissions it is seamless,” Ridenour mentioned. “We can adjust the forms at any time. Previously, it was a once-a-year project where the forms were reviewed, submitted and then uploaded by the vendor. Now, with online admissions from Blackbaud we can do it and alter the forms when we want to. It has been much easier for us and we are in control.”

Results

For Ridenour, Blackbaud’s Total School Solution™ is the ultimate option for schools. It provides the necessary applications that interact and share data with each other. Additionally, by selecting Blackbaud Application Hosting™, the school is free from the hassle of software updates and maintenance. And finally, it is all on one platform from one vendor, so she doesn’t have to manage and mediate between multiple vendors.

The ability of each tool to track information and generate reports that provide useful data is highly beneficial, Ridenour adds. For example, the school is able to track data via NetCommunity and Online Campus Community that has helped create better, more useable and more desired email communications. Based on these reports, the school has altered its email communications to provide more streamlined and customized content specific to the class for which a parent has a child.

Additional benefits of Blackbaud’s Total School Solution experienced by St. Alcuin include:

  • Decreased time to process online admissions by 50 percent
  • Increased data integrity across development, business and academic departments
  • Approximately 90 percent of admissions are accepted online

With the systems seamlessly interacting with each other, St. Alcuin has saved significant time collecting data and enjoys more accurate data. Ridenour estimates that overall data entry time across its development, business and academic departments has been reduced by 50 percent. Prior to Blackbaud, information would come into one department, where it is was entered in that department’s system. It was then passed along to another department that would enter it in its system before passing it along to a third department. Each transfer was an invitation for error. Now there is a single data entry point and data flows easily between offices. The school now has confidence in its data and has increased the efficiency of its back office operations.

Ridenour concludes, “Having everything hosted, on one platform, with one provider, and with systems that interact equates to fewer errors, and less staff time spent entering data and maintaining systems.

"We can better serve our constituents and families now with Blackbaud solutions.”

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