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Software solves educators' headaches

It wasn’t hard to convince school board members to subscribe to two new software purchases on Monday, once they heard what the technology will do.
Assistant Superintendent John Popp described the PublicSchoolWORKS managed training program and the EduClimber data management program.

EduClimber will manage all of the data for students that the district compiles. Students are tested several times a year to find out if they need extra instruction in reading and math skills.
All of that data has to be managed, Popp noted.
“It takes hours and hours of time to process this data,” he said. “Our buildings were talking about how much time they spent on data and I put out over one of our district leaders’ listservs, ‘I have a dream. I have a dream that there’s this magical program out there that will combine all of this data.’ I got about 15 responses that said, ‘You’re dreaming of EduClimber.’
“There was no other program that was recommended that does what this one does,” Popp said. “A couple of other programs were recommended, but they misunderstood what my dream was.”
Dovetailing information from a number of sources can zero in on things that may have gone unnoticed. For example, teachers know from testing if a student is having trouble with math concepts, but what’s the rest of the story?
“Do they have a problem with math, reading or behavioral, or is it just a math issue? If it’s just a math issue we can focus there, but it might be an attendance issue that’s causing the problem. You get the whole picture,” Popp said. “Honestly, it isn’t even possible for us to manipulate the data in this way (without this software).”
The set-up fee for this software is $2,851 and the annual subscription is $12,829.50, which is $4.50 per student.

PublicSchoolWORKS allows district employees to go online to receive all of their mandated training, such as “suicide prevention” or “sexual harassment in the workplace,” Popp said. This service offers more than 500 online courses, including the ones that USD 428 needs. In addition, it handles the tracking of required staff training.
“It is totally automated. The employees do it themselves,” Popp said. “Right now, we have five or six different groups and a number of ways to track that, so we’ve got stacks and stacks of paper. If you get a new employee and you miss one of these trainings for whatever reason, you open yourself up to all kinds of issues.”
If an issue arises such as a complaint about an employee, the documentation of that person’s training can be found in about 5 minutes with this software, Popp said.
“It would save us a lot of (training) time,” he added.
The start-up fee is $7,014 and the annual subscription for this service will cost $5,600.
The software costs less, potentially, than a single issue where an employee was not trained perfectly, Popp said. “This is a no-brainer.”

Gifts and grant submissions
In other business Monday, the school board approved the following contributions and grant applications:
• The Great Bend Chamber of Commerce donated $100 to the Park Elementary Drone Club.
• The GBHS Vocational Technology Club received two contributions designated for the club’s electric car. Desmarias LLC donated $400 and Jan Elliott donated $50.
• School nurses Linda Johnson, Libbie Merritt and Dana Wilson were given approval to apply for a $10,000 Healthy Living Grant to host a Healthy Activity/Snack Fair in April of 2018 that would include all schools in the community.
• Kansas Laureate Kappa donated $120 to Katie Zimmerman’s classroom at Jefferson Elementary.