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  • 1.  Student Information Systems

    Posted 01-24-2024 09:08 AM

    Good morning,

    As we embark on a re-evaluation of our SIS (currently using Rediker), I am looking for the following:

    1. What SIS are you using and why? (We hope to look at Veracross, PowerSchool, FACTS, and possibly Blackbaud.) Our overall issue: We are looking for a system that is more self-contained-do not need to plug into (sync) multiple systems for all of our functions we need (Student Records and Communication, Grades, Reporting, Giving, Student billing, Financials, LMS, Clinic, Security, etc.). If the functionality doesn't exist, having the ability to automate  (real-time) syncing easily and without extra cost would be preferred. 
    2. If you have converted your SIS in the past couple of years, do you have an RFP or other process you used to evaluate and accept the new provider? What barriers did you enc,unter and how did you resolve them?
    3. Is there some functionality you wanted but is missing in your solution? Did you find a workaround (or decided to live without)?
    4. Was your decision influenced by your budget (or lack of)?

    I would love to hear from you regarding your experiences and your recommendations. You may also email me directly at dmuller@oakhall.org. I appreciate all of your help!


    #ITSystemsandSupport

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    Donna Muller
    Oak Hall School
    Gainesville FL
    dmuller@oakhall.org
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  • 2.  RE: Student Information Systems

    Posted 01-25-2024 09:06 AM

    Good morning,

    We were a Blackbaud school and switched to Veracross almost two years ago now.  We found that Blackbaud was not doing some things that we needed it to do and we wanted a single database for all our data.  This is something that Blackbaud can't do yet.  

    While I can't talk about all of your different choices, I can spend as long as you can stand to listen talking about the pros and cons of both Blackbaud and Veracross.  

    Please feel free to contact me and I am happy to give you whatever info you would like on what we thought of Blackbaud, why we moved to Veracross, and the pros and cons of both.



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    James Manikas
    Webb School of Knoxville
    Knoxville TN
    jjm@webbschool.org[
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  • 3.  RE: Student Information Systems

    Posted 30 days ago

    Visitation uses Blackbaud and have many of their products and we feel invested. The past year we have found that some areas are lacking their focus.  However, we have been customers of theirs for a long time and don't plan on moving anytime soon.  We are working with our reps and others over there to get things better.  The SIS side we have no big complaints and their service is very good.  One of the reasons I do like BB.  



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    Beverly Byrd
    Visitation Academy
    St. Louis MO
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  • 4.  RE: Student Information Systems

    Posted 30 days ago

    Thank you for your feedback. It is appreciated.



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    Donna Muller
    Oak Hall School
    Gainesville FL
    dmuller@oakhall.org
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  • 5.  RE: Student Information Systems

    Posted 18 days ago

    We are a K-12 "Total Solution" Blackbaud school. This means if Blackbaud has a product that they market towards K-12 institutions, then we have it. We certainly did not enter into our contracts this way, it's been a gradual (over 40 years) of bouncing some systems around and then returning to the Blackbaud ecosystem.

    No matter what solution you select, know that you will never have "the perfect" solution. At best, you'll identify the "most beneficial and least painful" solution for your needs. In my research, I've found no solutions that do everything and do everything perfectly.

    Now to respond to your specific questions:

    1. What SIS are you using and why? We use Blackbaud. After exploring and experimenting with other SISes we determined that the Blackbaud SIS with the integrated core functionality met our needs. What couldn't be directly addressed in the system could be integrated.
      • Our overall issue: We are looking for a system that is more self-contained-do not need to plug into (sync) multiple systems for all of our functions we need (Student Records and Communication, Grades, Reporting, Giving, Student billing, Financials, LMS, Clinic, Security, etc.). The K-12 Core incorporates several of these functions and syncs with other Blackbaud or third-party solutions for the others. The K-12 Core incorporates the following functionality connected to one common record: Enrollment Management, Student Records, Attendance, Grades, Grade Books, Athletics, Activities/Clubs, Dorms, Reporting, *basic* Giving, Website, LMS, email communications, and Nurse's Office.
        • Advanced Giving, Fundraising, and Alumni Management are managed in BB Raiser's Edge via one-way sync.
        • Student Billing is managed in BB Tuition Management via family sync and enrollment contract integrations.
        • Financials all get tied together in BB Financial Edge.
        • Advanced nursing, security, bus routes, after-school clubs, and summer camps are administered through third-party apps, most of which have data integrations where it makes sense.
      • If the functionality doesn't exist, having the ability to automate  (real-time) syncing easily and without extra cost would be preferred. Syncing can be facilitated through several integration technologies and services, some are free, and some cost (ie Clever and ClassLink).
    2. If you have converted your SIS in the past couple of years, do you have an RFP or other process you used to evaluate and accept the new provider? What barriers did you enc,unter and how did you resolve them? Our last conversion was about 10 years ago.
    3. Is there some functionality you wanted but is missing in your solution? Did you find a workaround (or decided to live without)? We do wish we had better sync options between Raiser's Edge and K-12, but have developed workarounds for those issues that we experienced. Raiser's Edge has a bunch of data quality tools, like address updates, and email and phone finder services, which makes updating records a process when they exist in both the K-12 Core and in your RE systems.
    4. Was your decision influenced by your budget (or lack of)? We were fortunate enough to have the full backing of the school when we last reviewed systems to identify the system we believed would be able to be implemented and maintained for a significant amount of time. The community needed consistency and reliability.

    I hope this is helpful in your search for "your perfect" solution. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me!

    -Jimmy



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    Jimmy Cudzilo
    Chief Information Officer
    Miami Country Day School
    601 NE 107th Street
    Miami, FL 33161
    http://www.miamicountryday.org
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  • 6.  RE: Student Information Systems

    Posted 18 days ago

    Thank you for your information. We do have several BB products and interested in learning about the others. We will put on the list. 



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    Donna Muller
    Oak Hall School
    Gainesville FL
    dmuller@oakhall.org
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  • 7.  RE: Student Information Systems

    Posted 16 days ago

    @Donna Muller, I'm happy to share some thoughts...

    1. We (Montclair Kimberley Academy) use Veracross and Blackbaud for our major systems. We use Veracross for Admissions, Academics, and LMS. Blackbaud is used in Development, Business Office, and tuition management. We moved from a FileMaker-based system about four years ago and did a deep dive into the systems you've mentioned and others.  We found in our process and see in action now that Veracross offers a true "one record" system. 
    2. Our process includes multiple online demos, reference checks, site visits to schools using the systems, and on-site visits from our top-choice vendors. We conducted departmental interviews and a full gap analysis.  As part of the investigative work, we looked at the authentication methods and integrations connected systems would use if the native functionality weren't within the core system. Ultimately, we had a requirements list/RFP that was the guide we used to decide.
    3. The question of functionality came up during the gap analysis/feature requirements portion of our work. Internally, we identified those things that were required or optional (must have/nice to have). Then, based on this work, we asked each vendor to indicate if their system had the feature, "sort of" had the feature - with a space to explain, had the feature on the "roadmap," or didn't do it. The vendor did this blindly without knowing what we had indicated or what other vendors supplied as answers. This provided us with a detailed response and showed us which vendors took the time to explain in detail. This process made the vendor on-site visit much more valuable and productive. 
    4. Budget is always a factor, but if you do the work upfront, you can generally make the case. If not, everyone knows what you are or aren't getting with your chosen solution.

    You can do this work with a team of people at your school. It allows the decision-making process to be grounded in process and data. I have done this not only at my school but also with multiple others with the work I do with Educational Collaborators. The time taken at my school (MKA) and the others I have worked with have helped the selection process and the follow-up that will come once things start moving on the ground.



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    William Stites
    Montclair Kimberley Academy
    Montclair NJ
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