Software that gives school district administrators the tools to combine student data with geographic information provides much more than a nicely drawn and colorful map of the district. School district administrators can face multiple challenges more confidently when they analyze their data in a platform based on a geographic information system (GIS). Two recent articles highlight how ONPASS® Pro, a GIS tool for school districts, helps solve multiple types of problems.
- Administrators at Muskogee Public Schools faced difficult decisions related to declining birth rates and increasing numbers of families choosing nontraditional school options. In an article for eSchool News, Chief Information Officer Eric Wells describes how the district used ONPASS Pro to create multiple planning scenarios so they could reach a satisfactory solution.
District administrators worked with members of the community to devise a plan that turned an elementary school into a 6th grade center, closed a middle school, and moved those students to a larger elementary school. These changes required rezoning 2,700 students served by the remaining five elementary schools. Mapping the data helped show community members where students lived relative to school programs, demonstrated the need to move the location of one program, and even suggested unexpected efficiencies in the transportation department. Being able to show all stakeholders the data behind the decisions helped to calm an emotional situation.
- Members of the Community Consolidated School District #15 (IL) have been very active in an ongoing redistricting process and have found data analysis to be a central part of their efforts. The district had not redrawn school attendance boundaries for at least 25 years, and newly elected School Board members wanted to align boundaries with where students currently live.
Superintendent Scott Thompson wrote in “Redrawing School Boundaries with Confidence” that “Any open, transparent, and inclusive process…has to begin with accurate data presented in a way that makes sense to the stakeholders.” The district used ONPASS Pro to map the school attendance boundaries and run many boundary scenarios so everyone involved could see how changes affected multiple schools in the district. Thompson pointed out that the scenarios provided “instant feedback” that allowed for immediate adjustments. The data analysis has provided confidence that the best possible boundary-change plans will be adopted.