Willowbrook School Case Study

Willowbrook School Case Study

Overview

Willowbrook School is a small private school that has retained you to assist in the development of a new information system for the school’s administrative needs.

Background

Willowbrook School is a small, private school in the Midwestern United States. For the past 20 years, it has offered a curriculum for preschool through Grade 3. It also offers after-school care, usually referred to as after-care, on premises. Last year the school added a new classroom to allow the curriculum to expand to provide a Grade 4-6 program. Willowbrook is experiencing significant increases in enrollment applications for all programs from pre-school through the Grade 4-6 program. Increases in applications coupled with the expanded program and increased demand for after-school care have led to a very high workload for the administrative person on staff. The principal and teachers have stepped in where possible, but the demand is becoming too great. Willowbrook School is a non-profit and is not in a position to hire another full-time administrative position, which is what the principal and administrator think would be needed to handle the increased workload.

You are an independent IT consultant, specializing in developing IT solutions for small business needs. You have been contacted by the parent of one of the students to speak to the school principal, administrator and teaching staff about the possibility of setting up an information system to handle some of the school’s administrative and financial tasks. While there is no money in the budget to add a full-time position, the school does have a very active board of directors and parent committees that are experienced and enthusiastic about fund-raising for projects that do not fit into the budget. It is the hope of the school that it might be feasible to use a combination of grants and fund-raising to cover the initial cost of purchasing and setting up an information system, and the ongoing cost of a part-time support position for the system.

The paid staff of the school is as follows:

· Kathy Gilliard is the principal of Willowbrook. She has been at the school for 9 years and is a certified teacher. Kathy handles the academic and curricular issues that arise and ensures that the school meets all federal and state educational standards. She also deals with issues related to the school’s non-profit status. Kathy and the teachers who report to her make decisions jointly about admissions and assignments to classrooms. Kathy handles payroll for teachers and teacher aides. Kathy also substitutes in any of the school classrooms when a teacher is out.

· Susan Brown is the vice-principal. She is responsible for the after-care program. She has traditionally handled or been responsible for all administrative tasks related to tuition and after-care fees. Susan sends out monthly bills for tuition and after-care, records payments and handles bank deposits. While students must be pre-registered for after-care required on a daily basis, the school does offer “drop-in” care on an “as space allows” basis. Susan handles all requests for drop-in care in consultation with the after-care teachers and adjusts monthly bills accordingly. She also maintains the school calendar, prepares handouts and reminders for parents, and administers the “camps” that run during the two weeks that the school is not in session during the spring and the summer programs that run through July and August. She maintains all student records and ensures that contact and pick-up lists for all classrooms and after-care programs are up-to-date. She also handles payroll for the after-care teachers and part-time assistants in the after-care programs. Currently, Susan handles all her responsibilities using Microsoft Word and Excel. She is comfortable with the applications but finds that maintaining records and producing reports, payroll, etc. results in a lot of duplication of effort, as she has to copy a lot of information from one worksheet or document to another.

· There are six full-time teachers at Willowbrook, three for the pre-school-Kindergarten program, two for the Grades 1-3 program, and one for the Grades 4-6 program. There are five teachers aides, for the pre-school-Kindergarten and the Grades 1-3 programs. Teacher’s aides report to their respective teachers. Enrollment in the 4-6 program does not warrant the hiring of a teacher’s aide at this point in time, but it is expected that an aide will be hired next year when all three grades of the program will be populated. Each teacher is responsible for keeping attendance records and recording them in the student files.

· There are two full-time after-care teachers, one for the pre-school-Kindergarten group, and one for the primary grades. After-care teachers report to Susan Brown. Each after-care teacher has part-time assistants assigned to the program. Assistants report to the after-care teacher. The number of students pre-registered in the after-care program determines the number of assistants. The after-care teachers are responsible for keeping time sheets for their part-time assistants and submitting them every two weeks to Susan Brown. In addition, the after-care teachers are responsible for submitting weekly summary sheets to Susan Brown detailing any hours above those pre-registered for those students spent in the after-care program, so that parents are billed for the additional time.

· Like many other non-profit schools, Willowbrook relies on volunteer time from parents to accomplish many of the tasks essential to the running of the school. A financial committee examines monthly financial reports, a fund-raising committee evaluates possible fund-raising projects and handles approved fund-raising. In addition, individual parents step in as needed to do rote office tasks such as copying and distributing handouts, to free up Susan Brown for other tasks. Parents also fill in as assistants in the after-care programs when needed, and qualified parents step into the classroom as teacher’s aides whenever possible to reduce the reliance on substitute teachers.


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