CommunicationOperational Efficiency

How Creating One Source of Truth Transformed Operations at NYC's PS8

Case Studies
The Emily Warren Roebling School-boy student with his data

The Emily Warren Roebling School—otherwise known as Public School 8—is an elementary school in Brooklyn, which operates as part of the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE). At PS8, fewer than 60 staff members are responsible for just under 700 students from kindergarten through 5th grade. 

As the neighborhood demographics changed and the school population grew, the office staff struggled with the increasing strain of managing manual, paper-based processes. Principal Trish Peterson understood that to keep pace with NYCDOE compliance requirements, keep her students safe and engaged, and keep the school’s resources and staff focused on achieving excellent educational outcomes, she needed to find a way to streamline and optimize operations.

The Unreliable & Repetitive Nature of Paper-Based Processes

Because every form and associated workflow was paper-based, PS8’s processes were not only resource intensive, they lacked consistency and reliability. This was especially concerning when it came to student Blue Cards, NYCDOE’s emergency contact and medical management document.

Families had to complete three copies of every student’s Blue Card at the beginning of each year. Plus, the physical nature of Blue Card completion, collection, and collation was extremely limiting. “The compact amount of space dedicated to each section of the Blue Cards meant that we couldn’t always read or fit in all the required information,” explained Peterson. “In addition, the system was vulnerable because it was possible that, in an emergency, someone might not have physically filed the Blue Card in its correct spot after previous use.”

Along with the Blue Card, the school needs to send many forms home with students—from field trip permission slips and media consent forms to student onboarding documents and class contracts. On top of that, NYCDOE requires 17 documents from kindergarten students registering for the first time. 

Families provided the same information again and again. The manual nature of form distribution and collection also meant a lack of uniformity: educators didn’t always collect all the necessary information in the right way.

“The avalanche of paperwork often resulted in imperfect tracking and incomplete data collection at an individual teacher level, which meant imperfect record-keeping at the school level,” said Peterson. “In fact, in my conversations with our teachers, some admitted that they were unfamiliar with the school administration’s regulations and requirements for form types. At that point, it became clear we needed a way to automate this process in order to remove potential for human error.”

The avalanche of paperwork often resulted in imperfect tracking and incomplete data collection at an individual teacher level, which meant imperfect record-keeping at the school level.”

—Trish Peterson, Principal, PS8 The Emily Warren Roebling School

Automated Processes, Digital Distribution, Reliable Data

Peterson shared that digitizing the distribution of forms and collection of data via SchoolStatus Forms & Workflows enabled PS8 to easily establish a single source of truth for reliable, up-to-date student information for the first time.

“With [SchoolStatus Forms & Workflows], we know that the right forms are being sent directly to parents,” said Peterson. “We also know that the right information is requested of all parents, responses are tracked and returned data is made universally accessible to authorized staff—at any moment, through any device. It would be so hard to go back to how things were before [SchoolStatus Forms & Workflows].”

Embracing Organization-Wide Participation for Compliance

Peterson shared that PS8’s Parent Coordinator also uses SchoolStatus Forms & Workflows to correct and update student data in other NYCDOE systems.

“We use [SchoolStatus Forms & Workflows] as our primary source of data and truth for student information, school operations and anything the NYCDOE mandates—from parent consent through Proof of Immunization,” said Peterson. 

“It’s so easy for staff to update data as things change. And, because [SchoolStatus Forms & Workflows] is forward-facing, even parents can directly update student information, with relevant staff immediately notified of those changes. With [SchoolStatus Forms & Workflows], we know we always have the best student information on hand.”

Automating these recurring processes was also critical for reducing staff workload—particularly during student registration and onboarding.

“[SchoolStatus Forms & Workflows] does all of the distribution and chasing for us until everything is signed and returned,” said Peterson. “The platform eliminates wasted time, paper and human error, while delivering better and faster response rates. Parents are more engaged, student participation is up, and our staff can concentrate on delivering a better school experience rather than inefficient admin tasks.”

Peterson added that it wasn’t just the automation of student registration and onboarding processes at the start of the school year where SchoolStatus Forms & Workflows saved the day. 

SchoolStatus Forms & Workflows also helped PS8 facilitate ongoing communications and processes to keep staff and families informed throughout the year. “The ability to quickly send messages to parents, and then copy staff, has been amazing,” shared Peterson.

While SchoolStatus Forms & Workflows had lightened the load on staff, dramatically streamlining many of its school processes in one place, none of that would have mattered without family uptake of the system. 

Consolidating School Processes for Better Administration-Parent Collaboration

“Parent buy-in was absolutely critical to [SchoolStatus Forms & Workflows’] success,” said Peterson. “No matter how beneficial school staff found it, that view needed to be shared by parents—and it is.”

A New Normal

By taking the initiative to introduce a powerful digitization system that streamlined operations and better aligned administrators, educators, and families, the PS8 The Emily Warren Roebling School was able to supercharge imperative initiatives such as student registration, school trips, and educator reimbursement. 

Freeing school staff and families from time-consuming and confusing manual data entry has skyrocketed levels of family participation throughout the PS8 community, leaving everyone excited, engaged and… relieved!