Board of Ed. chooses new student information system

Tue, 03/17/2009 - 3:52pm
By: Ben Nelms

The Fayette County Board of Education voted unanimously Monday to replace the current student information system (SIS) that will cease to be operational in Georgia on Aug. 1.

SIS systems are critical since the data provides the basis on which state funding is derived.

The vote came after the SIS committee completed its work and recommended two possible systems for the board’s consideration.

The SIS committee recommended the selection of either of two products that included Tyler Technologies’ TEMS program and Infinite Campus from K12 Solutions, Inc.

Over a five-year period, the Infinite Campus system would cost $1,014 million, compared to $1,031 million for the TEMS system. The TEMS system would allow for $292,700 of that cost to be absorbed through 1-cent sales tax collections.

The conversion and implementation of a new SIS will be an enormous undertaking that includes the conversion of data, installation of hardware, implementation and training, said Technology Services Director Curt Cearley.

After a lengthy discussion, Superintendent John DeCotis recommended the Infinite Campus system due to its proven experience in other state school systems and the cost-savings associated with not having to hire additional tech staff.

Comptroller Laura Brock noted that, along with the annual $171,000 budgeted for an SIS system, Cearley had been making arrangements in his department to cut costs in anticipation of having to replace the current SIS. Those considerations will offset the savings to the M&O budget that would have been realized through the use of 1-cent sales tax dollars through TEMS.

One of the differences in the two products is that TEMS would require an outright purchase while Infinite Campus is a leased product. TEMS does not include the type of tech support supplied by Infinite Campus, so it would not require additional staffing in the school system technology department.

During their presentation, committee members said TEMS was not as well-tested in Georgia, having committed to meeting state reporting deadlines for seven school districts.

Infinite Campus, on the other hand, is already in use in 30 Georgia school districts and has successfully converted state-required data from the current SIS used in Fayette.

The TEMS system could be partially paid for by using upcoming local option sales tax funds while Infinite Campus cannot, the committee said. And finally, Infinite Campus provides the lowest overall cost to the school system, though TEMS would lower the impact to the Maintenance & Operation budget.

SIS software is the basis for school systems submittal to state Dept. of Education in order to receive funding. SIS programs consist of a database that contains detailed student records such as grades, course work, enrollment, testing, attendance, discipline records and special education information for all active and withdrawn students.

State and federal reporting guidelines require the school system to pull specific student information from the SIS (database) and compile it in very precise formats for electronic submission prior to established deadlines. The school system is required to submit three FTE (Full-Time Equivalent) reports, five other reports and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for the No Child Left Behind program. Each report requires unique sets of data for submission. FTE reporting is a requirement of state and federal law.

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