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When it comes to day-to-day tasks, automation can be key to speeding up the process and giving time back to staff so they can focus on more pressing issues. At District 218 in Illinois, they have been able to do just that with their Skyward integrated solutions from School Technology. We sat down with Sandy Lakosil, who has been with the district for 25 years, to hear more about how they are utilizing School Tech’s ID Badging, Tardy Kiosk, and Food Service solutions.

Before using School Tech’s ID Badging software, District 218 had a different software that did not integrate with Skyward. “We would take a picture and it wouldn’t be in Skyward, we had to manually pull it from the old ID software and import it into Skyward. It was a tedious process.” said Sandy. Due to their old system being separate from their Student Information System, “someone would go to get their ID picture, but none of their information was in the ID system, so we would need to ask, ‘What grade are you in?’” taking up valuable time for staff.

With the old system, District 218 was doing the manual import at the beginning of the year, any changes with students wouldn’t be synced between the systems, “throughout the year, staff were constantly reaching out saying ‘this student has no picture’ and we would need to find it in the system and manually put them into the other system,” said Sandy.

While looking for a better solution District 218 came across School Tech’s ID Badging software with a direct integration with Skyward through an ODBC connection. Sandy explained the main feature that made them choose School Tech’s solution, “The student starts off by getting their information into Skyward and then it immediately transfers over to the ID software, it’s amazing. Then they have their picture taken for the ID and the picture is immediately in Skyward.” The badge customization has also been a great benefit, from color coding student’s badges according to their lunch periods to printing staff IDs on proximity badges so staff can also use it for building access.

Illinois state law requires schools to provide suicide prevention information, so District 218 has that printed on the back of all of their school badges. “It doesn’t look tacky, it’s not just some sticker on the back of the ID,” said Sandy. They also utilize the barcode that the ID software pulls from Skyward, so students are able to use their badge to go through lunch lines, at the school library, and at their Tardy Kiosks.

When asked about the implementation of ID Badging, Sandy said, “We were nervous about it, but it went really smoothly. We went around and did some training, mostly with our security staff who are the main ones who use the ID system, and it was simple. We did put a cheat sheet together for them, but unlike our previous system we rarely receive any calls about issues.” Compared to their old ID system, School Tech’s has been very user friendly, they are able to easily switch between printing student or staff badges and changes in enrollment are smooth.

The next School Tech solution District 218 utilizes is the Tardy Kiosk that automates entering student tardies into Skyward by having the student scan or pin their ID into the kiosk and printing a tardy slip. District 218 front office was manually writing tardy slips for students and having teachers mark the tardies in Skyward. With students walking into a classroom 7 to 10 minutes late, it would disrupt the flow of instruction and the teacher would need to make a mental note to remember to change the attendance of that student. “There were a lot of challenges with that process, but we did the best we could with what we had at the time,” said Sandy.

Then, a building reached out wanting to pilot a Tardy Kiosk device and they let them give it a try. “They absolutely loved it and instantly were like, ‘OK, we want another one’.” Word spread quickly and other school buildings got their own Tardy Kiosks, one building decided to try out a ‘mobile’ one as well. “They [staff] have the Tardy Kiosk on a mobile cart and do ‘Tardy Sweeps’ periodically,” said Sandy. ‘Tardy Sweeps’ are performed whenever the school notices tardies to class increasing and students loitering in the hallways. They take the mobile carts to areas that they think students might be hanging out and any students that are late for class check in on the kiosk and it automatically updates Skyward. The kiosk provides a printed slip to the students so the teachers know when the student gets to class, Skyward attendance is already updated.

After implementing the Tardy Kiosk, District 218 also started using the Automated Discipline feature in Skyward, where they set thresholds for certain referral actions to happen when a student gets to a specified number of tardies. “The volume of tardies has gone down a lot because the students don’t know where or when the Tardy Sweeps are going to be and they know it’s automated. After so many tardies they will get a referral, so they’ve got to get to class.”

District 218 also uses School Tech’s keypads and cash drawers in their food service lines. “The student’s key in their ID and with the ID Badging integration, their picture shows up for the attendant so they know if the right ID has been entered and that works really well for us,” said Sandy.

Lastly, we asked Sandy for any additional comments on their solutions from School Technology and she highlighted our dedicated support staff, “School Tech’s support is extremely knowledgeable and helpful, it’s hard to find customer service like this with a prompt response time that makes us feel like the most important people. It’s nice that I can reach out and no matter how small of a question it might be, it’s answered.”

If you would like to learn more about how School Tech’s ID Badging, Tardy Kiosk, or Food Service solutions can work for your school, reach out to us at sales@k12sta.com or call (877) 436-4657.