Solutions

Suburban New York school district finds plenty of ways to enhance workflow and streamline everyday operations with FileMaker Pro 8

Scarsdale School District

Serving approximately 4,600 students in suburban Scarsdale, New York, the Scarsdale Public School District operates a total of five elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school, all working to provide an environment of intellectual challenge and achievement in the liberal arts tradition. Scarsdale students routinely rank high on standardized tests and state examinations, and emerge from the district well prepared for the challenges of college and adult life. FileMaker Pro databases are an essential tool for managing information and providing essential services to teachers, administrators, and students throughout the district.

Overview

  • Public school district serving a thriving New York suburb
  • Based in Scarsdale, NY
  • Approximately 450 employees

Industry

  • K-12 Education

Solutions

  • A wide range of FileMaker Pro 8 database systems designed in–house, including those to generate elementary–school report cards, schedule computer lab use, and administer specialized programs.

Benefits

  • Easy in–house development quick preparation of new, custom database applicationsTabbed layouts simplify development and enhance usability
  • Password–protected online access to database functions allows students and teachers to quickly and easily enter their own information, eliminating hours of manual data entry

We can do some pretty sophisticated things without the hours that another product might require. I've never considered other products — I'm not just a FileMaker Pro user, I'm a real fan!

— Doug Rose, Teacher, Scarsdale Middle School

Business Challenge

There's never a moment in a busy school district where there isn't data to organize and information to store. Grades must be collected and collated, forms must be completed and filed, facts and figures must be sorted and indexed, and all that work has to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible. And even when sophisticated database solutions are available to do the work — someone still has to prepare those solutions to suit the task at hand. "The biggest challenge is not only having the time to develop a solution," says Scarsdale School District Director of Technology Jerry Crisci, "but also to test it, because oftentimes you design something and you think it'll work one way, but when you do user testing, you'll find that people will use it in very different ways."

The ability to develop quickly and easily — while maintaining user flexibility — is a primary requirement. Well over a decade ago, the district adopted FileMaker Pro as its database application of choice — and has never looked back. "For those of us who've used it for a while," comments Scarsdale Middle School teacher Doug Rose, "we can do some pretty sophisticated things without the hours that another product might require. I've never considered other products — I'm not just a FileMaker Pro user, I'm a real fan!"

Successful Solution

Just about anywhere you look in the Scarsdale School District, you'll find FileMaker Pro — in the classroom, in the office, in the computer lab, wherever a sophisticated yet user–friendly database application might come in handy. "For example, at the elementary school we have all our report cards generated in FileMaker Pro and stored in FileMaker Pro databases," notes Jerry. "We've also have five elementary school computer labs, and those lab schedules are all tracked in FileMaker. The scheduling program was designed by, Jodi Giroux, one of our elementary computer teachers. At the High School, we have a program called Senior Options, which allows seniors in their last semester to do something outside the classroom, an end–of–school experience like an internship, and we have two FileMaker Pro databases serving this program — one to store and manage the proposals the students put together, and the other to store information on the people who serve as sponsors for the seniors who participate." The databases were designed by a high school computer teacher, Barbara Bierbauer.

Scarsdale Middle School also makes wide use of FileMaker Pro databases. "We have a number of different applications running on dedicated FileMaker servers on our network here," says Doug, "some of them using Advanced Web Publishing. Our solutions range from largely administrative tasks like distributing incoming students to the appropriate academic houses to running our annual speech contest."

Altogether, dozens of FileMaker Pro databases operate behind the scenes in the Scarsdale School District, some of them long–established systems containing thousands of records, and others created on short notice to meet some new and specific purpose. New applications, and enhancements of established solutions, are in constant development. For example, the Scarsdale Youth Employment Service used Filemaker Pro to automate all of their office functions. An employer job database can easily be searched by students. Their placements are also tracked in a related database, allowing for increased efficiency and reporting.

Now, with computer room scheduling handled by FileMaker Pro 8, a teacher can log onto any computer in the building, any computer in the district, and on the fly make an appointment and schedule themselves.

— Jerry Crisci, Director of Technology, Scarsdale School District

Customer Benefits

Having grown with FileMaker Pro from its earliest versions, Scarsdale School District users were enthusiastic in their migration to FileMaker Pro 8. "We've had a number of solutions that we've migrated from," observes Doug, "including some that were pretty ambitious, but from a developer's standpoint there's really been no problems with migration at all." For Doug, the move to FileMaker Pro 8 means the opportunity to make solutions even more accessible to the people who matter most — the end users. "I'd have to say the feature that's meant the most to me in terms of developing and working with other teachers is the ability to work with tabbed layouts," he continues. "I like that a lot, and it definitely makes a difference in the way I design."

For Jerry, the real enhancements come in time saved — both on the development end and in the ability to automate functions that once required extensive manual data entry. While he says it's impossible to even begin to estimate the cost savings involved, the difference in time required to complete necessary tasks can be seen every day. "For example, in the past, teachers had to go and walk to the computer lab to sign up on paper schedules — and sometimes that would involve collaboration, finding someone to sign up with you to agree on the time. Now, with computer room scheduling handled by FileMaker Pro 8, a teacher can log onto any computer in the building, any computer in the district, and on the fly make an appointment and schedule themselves."

The greatest benefit by far, however, is the sense of freedom provided by FileMaker Pro's ease of development and use — a sense that whatever needs to be done can be done, quickly and efficiently. "It's a question of what you can do or cannot do," concludes Doug. "Quite simply, some of the stuff we can do with FileMaker Pro couldn't be done without it — and those things become an essential part of the work we do!"

For FileMaker:

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

For Scarsdale School District:

Jerry Crisci
Dirctor of Technology
Scarsdale School District
914-721-2430
gcrisci@scarsdaleschools.org
http://www.scarsdaleschools.org