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Federal Way schools to replace student information system

Federal Way Public Schools is set to change its student information system in the near future because the current software the district runs will, for all intents and purposes, be discontinued after the 2012-13 school year.

With that fact looming, the district approved the company Edupoint to replace the system during the July 27 school board meeting.

The student information system (SIS) collects data and registration from students. It includes schedules, and the system software drives the scheduling, said Sally McLean, assistant superintendent of business services.

"It's the core system that we use for extracting information to (the state superintendent's office)," McLean said. "Our current student information system was first implemented in this district in, I believe, 1999. And that platform…is at the end of its upgradeable life."

McLean said the district had planned on moving forward with replacing the SIS last year, but reconsidered at the time because of other technology related issues the district experienced at the beginning of the year.

Instead, they reset the clock and issued a Request for Proposals in March 2012.

"We had five vendors respond," McLean noted.

The vendor that impressed the most was a company called Edupoint (www.edupoint.com), with its Synergy software. McLean explained the vetting process, saying it was lengthy and detailed.

"It was a lot of reading, and a lot of ranking, and evaluating systems. The people who read through those, ranked them from their individual perspectives. We got together and looked at them through the individual and shared rankings. Even at the paper level, Edupoint, at that very first round, was clearly the group's first or second choice," McLean said. "We had 50-plus people from all over the district come in and view different pieces of Edupoint as it related to their work."

McLean said some of the positives in Edupoint's favor are the fact that it's a company whose personnel have been deeply involved in educational information systems since 1997. The Edupoint software is in relatively wide use throughout the state of Oregon, as well.

Superintendent Rob Neu is familiar with one of the systems that Edupoint's founder, Bob Weathers, developed for schools.

"I happened to be a SASI-XP user back when I was a vice principal in Michigan, and I loved the product," Neu said. "There were several things that impressed me. Their desire to develop and hand over a product that is user-friendly and can have the flexibility that we believe meets our needs. I hope we can look back a couple of years from now and say this was one of the wisest decisions we ever made."

School board president Tony Moore expressed concerns over proposed state legislation that would require a daily attendance report to the state, and whether Edupoint would be able to handle such a task.

"There is flexibility in the system. Whatever is in the system of a variable nature, is something we can define," McLean replied.

Board member Danny Peterson said he was happy with the choice because district staff went with what works best, and not what's priciest.

"The district didn't choose to pick the most expensive (product)," he said. "As a society, I think we think the most expensive is the best. So it was nice to see the more expensive product was lower scored, and we actually picked something that we felt was the best for us."

McLean noted the funding for this system overhaul would come from a previous technology levy. Along with that, she anticipates that team members from Edupoint will be on hand at the board's August meeting to finalize the agreements.

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