Solutions

In Growing Ohio School District, "Everything" Revolves Around FileMaker Pro

Lakota Local School District

With roots in two earlier districts, Liberty and Union, which were united in the 1950s, what is today known as Lakota is the eighth largest school district in Ohio, and the largest school district in Butler County, just north of Cincinnati. With two high schools, a freshman school, three junior schools, and eleven elementary schools, Lakota has grown in the last 20 years from a rural district to a suburban district with student population of over 15,000. According to Gary Canterbury, director of the technology department for the district, Lakota's wide–ranging school system, its fibre optic network serves 23 buildings spread over 68 square miles, had equally large and diverse needs.

Overview

  • When pastoral farmland is supplanted by suburban growth, the needs of local services — including the educational system — are bound to rise. Meeting those needs calls for specialized tools, and in southwestern Ohio, the Lakota Local School District has found those tools centered upon FileMaker Pro.

Industry

  • K–12 Education

If a child is having problems, or is handicapped or has issues that need solutions addressed to them, they need an IEP, as the plans are known. It was a huge effort until FileMaker Pro came along. Now, teacher can create individualized programs and track them and track the level at which they are being addressed.

— Gary Canterbury, Director of the Technology, Lakota Local School District

Business Challenge

"When I became director, we needed a flexible solution, I was very familiar with FileMaker Pro and knew it had the multi–user capabilities [we needed]," he said. "Just about everything we do revolves around FileMaker Pro. It's become the core of our operation."

Today, more than 500 users can access the network databases stored on each of four servers; additional servers in each school provide hundreds more databases specific to a given campus.

The databases contain, Canterbury said, "all [our] student data and demographic management. All of the typical stuff, where they live, what they do, and what grade they're in."

Building on those basics, the Lakota district can also track student's use of in–school medical clinics that are staffed by skilled nursing personnel. The usage data — numbering 125,000 records per year — must also be reported to state officials in Ohio.

"In the [school] clinic database, all the compilation used to be done by hand," Canterbury recalled. "It would take days to tabulate the number of clinic calls for the state. It would take days for the data to be collected by one nurse, who would have to tabulate all that. What used to take a week to do now is done in a matter of seconds."

Successful Solution

Lakota is also using FileMaker Pro successfully is where lesson plans are developed for students with greater educational needs. Previously, such "Individual Education Plans" had to be created manually, a point driven home to Canterbury when he observed a teacher crying in frustration when they spent a weekend in an empty school building, trying to keep up.

"If a child is having problems, or is handicapped or has issues that need solutions addressed to them," he explained, they need an IEP, as the plans are known. It was a huge effort until FileMaker Pro came along. Now, teacher can create individualized programs and track them and track the level at which they are being addressed."

And instead of having to traipse into school over the weekend, authorized teachers with a computer can log on to the districts network and work on IEPs from the comfort of their own home, Canterbury added.

At the other end of school administration, students who present disciplinary problems also must be monitored by the district — and reported to the state. According to Craig Campbell, database administrator for the school district, the disciplinary program is "our most successful database," in no small measure because it ties many disparate threads together.

We're putting FileMaker Pro on the front end because it's pretty and it is easy to use.

— Gary Canterbury, Director of the Technology, Lakota Local School District

"As we began to support disciplinary tracking, we found holes in what was being done," Campbell said. "Now, discipline matters are tracked going from the actual teacher to the assistant principal and then to coordination by the assistant superintendent. It all flows to the district's Educational Management Information Services coordinator who reports data to state."

The various pieces of the disciplinary puzzle now fit together, Campbell said.

"Truancy officers, resource officers — all these individuals had piece of puzzle, but there was no unification of data. Some departments weren't getting the correct data to each other; now all notes, all contacts are in one file."

The grade–school concept of a "permanent record" now takes on greater meaning in the Lakota district, since all aspects of a disciplinary record are maintained in a single FileMaker Pro database: "Each school year, a student starts off with a blank clean slate, but it's all archived," Lakota's Canterbury said.

Customer Benefits

Future FileMaker expansion planned
Moving forward, database administrator Campbell will use FileMaker Pro as the front–end interface to the district's Pentamation [program], which is a giant MIS system that resides on a mainframe.

"We're putting FileMaker Pro on the front end because it's pretty and it is easy to use," Canterbury said.

The district also uses FileMaker Pro for its initial entry of payroll data; principals in each school tote laptops with the software to classrooms for quick entry of teacher evaluations.

In all, Campbell said, Lakota has "brought online 375 active FileMaker Pro databases — and that number is growing. And those are just the ones we serve from technology department to the district as a whole; there are hundreds in every department that they use, and none are for just a single user."

Just as the Lakota Local Schools have grown over the past years, their use of FileMaker Pro is accelerating as well.

For FileMaker:

Kevin Mallon
Public Relations Manager
FileMaker Inc.
408-987-7227
kevin_mallon@filemaker.com
http://www.filemaker.com