Customer Success Story
Archdiocese of Baltimore
Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Baltimore provide a Christ-centered education that is academically excellent and empowers students to reach their full potential – spiritually, intellectually, physically, socially, and morally.
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For administrators, teachers and staff at the Archdiocese of Baltimore Catholic Schools, part of their mission is to empower their students intellectually, physically and socially. Over 13,000 students are enrolled in the Catholic school system, which includes 48 elementary, middle and high schools. The schools are located in Baltimore City, as well as in Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Harford, Howard and Washington counties.
Administrators at the Archdiocese of Baltimore Catholic Schools were looking for an easy way to efficiently communicate with teachers, staff and parents. They sought to implement a school notification system to all schools and its headquarters, which would allow administrators to simultaneously notify teachers, staff and parents when an emergency occurred.
The SwiftK12 notification system, which directly integrates with the archdiocese’s student information system called PowerSchool, was implemented in 2016. “We relied on a phone tree in each school,” said Sunda Cramer, student systems application manager for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. “Communication was really at the school level. If there was a closing, we would have to watch the local news and see if the school or office was closed. If there was an emergency at the school or in our building, it really was just phoning parents and staff.”
SwiftK12 is a notification system that allows administrators to communicate with teachers, staff and parents or guardians without leaving the PowerSchool application. It is accessible through a single sign-on, which enables administrators to leverage PowerSchool’s full demographic capabilities and communicate in a more relevant manner.
Around 1,500 staff members send these messages out through voice, email and texts. After SwiftK12 was implemented, staff members evaluated how they were using the school notification system.
“We first were going to use the notification system strictly as an emergency system. Quickly the schools themselves saw the benefit of the system and started using it as a communication tool with their parents.”
STUDENT SYSTEMS APPLICATION MANAGER
ARCHDIOCESE OF BALTIMORE
Cramer said staff members at the Archdiocese of Baltimore Catholic Schools send out about 13,000 messages each day at the district level, while staff at each of the 48 schools send out their own messaging to parents. These parent messages total about another 5,000 per day, according to Cramer.
Most of these schools have eliminated take home folders as the primary means of communicating with families. The SwiftK12 system now is used to send out weekly messages. “I have some schools that send over 600 messages a month to their parents,” she added. Some of these messages include weekly communication with parents, resulting in “no more Monday mailers.”
Messages are also being sent out through the Department of Catholic Schools to inform teachers and parents about computer system downtimes. Teachers also receive information about training opportunities, and parents are being notified to verify their personal contact information.
Several teachers at one high school were looking at ways to directly communicate with students and their families, rather than “cutting and pasting email addresses into Outlook,” Cramer said. The high school last year implemented SwiftK12 for PowerTeacher, which enables teachers to message students and their families through email, voice calls or text. These messages may include assignments, exam reminders and permission slips.
Administrators recently added the PDF Builder module to their SwiftK12 implementation. PDF Builder is a secure document delivery tool that allows teachers and staff to automatically send report cards and other student-specific PDF documents to student families electronically. Documents can be password protected for added security and shared directly within the PowerSchool Parent Portal.
“Before we used the PDF Builder, we were mailing home or handing out our progress reports,” she said. “When COVID hit, we knew right away we needed another way to send home the reports because schools were closing.”
For the 2020–2021 school year, Cramer expects staff members to expand their usage of the PDF Builder module.
“My schools have asked for the PDF Builder credentials to be set up for all of their reports and letters they normally send home, so they can go green and not send any paper home,” she said.
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