J.K. Mullen High School

J.K. Mullen High School Moves into the 21st Century with Blackbaud Total School Solution

J.K. Mullen High School is a Catholic, Lasallian, College-Prep school committed to teaching the minds and touching the hearts of young men and women. Founded in 1931 and accredited by the North Central Association of Secondary Schools, J.K. Mullen provides a rich secondary education to its students in the tradition of the Brothers of the Christian Schools and their founder, St. John Baptist de La Salle, Patron of Teachers of Youth. The school has a proud and time-tested tradition, one connected to a legacy of faith, community, and service that extends over three centuries and six continents.

Challenge

In early 2009, the Board of Trustees for J.K. Mullen High School began to see the limitations of its information technology structure. It was difficult, if not impossible, for the school to holistically look at its operations. Financially, the limitation of data made it difficult to determine the health of the school or determine in which direction it was moving. Enrollment was hard to grasp and, therefore, limited the decision-making ability of the Administration.

The school maintained 13 different software applications that were on different platforms. Its student billing information, for example, was maintained in four different systems. None of the school’s 13 systems were seamlessly integrated nor communicated with each other. Each system was limited in the amount of data that it could provide. Furthermore, obtaining data required a significant amount of human intervention and resulted in more inaccurate data.

Also, the school could not effectively service its constituent groups. J.K. Mullen needed to update its processes and systems to adapt to a culture driven by technology and bring the school into the 21st century.

Solution

Christopher Whitaker, CFO for J.K. Mullen High School, felt that a system had to exist that met all the software needs of the school including financial management, enrollment management, student management, constituent management, and online financial and data transaction capabilities. He looked at 10 to 15 software applications, but none provided all the solutions in a single platform except Blackbaud’s Total School Solution.

“I found only two systems that came remotely close, but neither provided the flexibility or scalability to meet our future demands,” Whitaker said. “Blackbaud is the total solution that we needed and will drive us forward.”

J.K. Mullen uses The Education Edge™, The Financial Edge™, The Raiser’s Edge®, Online Campus Community™, and Online Admissions and Re-Enrollment™. These products, combined in a single platform and supported by one vendor, provides the school with the integration and functionality necessary to enable effective decision-making, provide essential services to its constituent base, keep the school competitive in a technology-driven society, and bring its various constituent groups closer to the school.

Results

For J.K. Mullen High School the benefits of implementing Blackbaud software has had a positive impact on the staff, teachers, students, parents and alumni of the high school.

“The ability of our constituents to access the information they want and need such as student records, grades, tests and attendance, has really bonded our community,” Whitaker mentioned. “I knew it would happen. I was not expecting it to happen so quickly.”

With The Raiser’s Edge and The Financial Edge, J.K. Mullen has been able to easily create queries, access records, and produce financial and operational reports that provide accurate information to help determine the operational health of the school and enable more effective decision-making by the Administration.

Using Online Admissions and Re-Enrollment, the school can better gauge its current and future enrollment, which directly impacts the financial health and future academic operations of the school. By knowing how many students are enrolled, Whitaker can create more accurate budgets for the coming year. Before, with a manual and written enrollment process, Whitaker could not accurately know how many students were enrolled for the coming school year until shortly before school started. This made planning resources and managing the school’s budgets difficult. Now with Blackbaud, he can know at the end of April how many students are enrolled for the fall. Armed with this information, Whitaker can budget for shortfalls in enrollment and make adjustments to resources and programs as necessary.

“Blackbaud’s Total School Solution has made my job easier, and I am more efficient and effective,” he said. “In addition to providing information, we can better understand the financial impacts on the school. Now we can get that information and make intelligent decisions instead of the slightly educated guessing game that has been played in the past.”

The admissions and enrollment management function has enabled J.K. Mullen to better cultivate young students to encourage their attendance. The school has begun entering fifth and sixth graders into the system to cultivate a future enrollment pipeline. With this information they are able to cultivate prospective students and parents early so that attending J.K. Mullen becomes an easy decision made long before the process of assessing other prospective schools begins.

Online Campus Community™ has also had a profound impact on the school. The solution has fostered a deeper relationship between the school and its constituents. It has opened the lines of communication and has given parents more insight to, and responsibility for their child’s education. Parents are able to view grades, assignments, tests and attendance. Alumni are now more involved with the school’s annual activities rather than their respective reunions.

The eCommunications functionality in Online Campus Community has played a vital role in achieving and developing more open communications. Principal memos, sports updates, and meetings are now communicated via email to all or a targeted constituent group in one-time mass distribution. This gives parents more transparency into what is going on at the school day-to-day. Giving this level of insight has had a positive impact on parents and their relationship with J.K. Mullen.

J.K. Mullen High School’s future, like many religious-based schools, depends on its enrollment. “When you look at it, enrollment has been declining with faith-based institutions across the board,” Whitaker added. “In order for us to remain competitive, we need to deliver services to our constituents consistent with their experience and expectations in this on-demand, technology driven society. Blackbaud helps us do that by providing the software technology needed to better manage our data, make better decisions to ensure the future of the school, and build better, long-term relationships with our constituents.”

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