Catlin Gabel School is an independent pre-K through grade 12 institution in Portland, Oregon with a student population of 780. After realizing their school’s data was spread across 78 different systems, they implemented Veracross as a solution to their siloed information.
Like many schools, Catlin Gabel had a data problem. They collected information about their students every single day without a clear way to organize it.
At the time, Catlin Gabel used an on-premise student information system (SIS) for their registrar, business, and advancement offices. Other departments used different solutions for storing their respective data which created redundancies, integrity concerns, and unreliability. Additionally, the old SIS required a VPN connection to work off-campus which made the system hard to use.
In 2017, Catlin Gabel hired a third-party consulting group to audit their tech stack and identify opportunities for improvement. The results were surprising: the school had 78 different software systems in place!
From teeny tiny after school care to point-of-sale, library systems, facilities, calendaring… all the little pieces you have to have. It was really nice to see that laid out.
This visibility was eye-opening and made everyone realize their data wasn’t as actionable as it could be. The consultants advised Catlin Gabel to look for a new SIS that could bring everything together in one system and manage their data in a more efficient way.
Led by Daisy, the school formed a search committee comprised of faculty, staff, and parents. They sent a request for proposal to multiple vendors and completed product demos with several. Ultimately, they chose to move forward with Veracross as their new student information system. They were impressed by the single-record database, browser-based functionality, and data-driven communication tools.
The decision was made in May 2018 and implementation began shortly after. Working closely with the Veracross implementation team, Catlin Gabel conducted a “soft launch” of the new SIS in February 2019 before fully transitioning for the ’19 – ’20 school year.
The Veracross Solution
Today, Catlin Gabel uses Veracross to manage student data across most major departments including core foundation, admission, student billing, other programs, transportation, athletics, and extended day care. “Veracross is where all of our internal information is stored,” says Daisy.
A typical day at Catlin Gabel looks like this:
- Faculty records attendance, reviews student schedules, and charts student behavior in Veracross
- The admission office manages applications, enrollment, and re-enrollment in Veracross
- The business office conducts student billing with Veracross tuition management
- Athletic trainers and coaches manage team rosters, calendars, and schedules in Veracross
- Parents submit student attendance, pay tuition, and stay updated with important school information via the Veracross parent portal
- The communications office sends newsletters, daily bulletins, and SMS updates via Veracross
- Transportation staff update their schedule based on student attendance and athletic schedules in Veracross
- The outdoor education department and after school staff manage their rosters based on student attendance in the Veracross other programs and extended day care modules
“We try to use as many different pieces of it as we can… I keep asking, ‘Can’t we use Veracross for that?,’” jokes Daisy. With so much information stored in a single database, Catlin Gabel can see a full picture of each school constituent beginning with application status and continuing through student, parent, alumni, and donor. This centralized platform has helped Catlin Gabel to streamline internal workflows and improve the user experience for parents, faculty, and staff.
One of Catlin Gabel’s favorite Veracross features is the customizable user portals. As part of the Veracross core foundation, portals enable schools to provide a unique brand experience and display user-specific information for different audiences. A self-proclaimed “portal happy” institution, Catlin Gabel has built upwards of seven different user portals including a parent / guardian portal, future parent portal, employee portal, faculty portal, alumni portal, board portal, and billing portal.
The future parent portal, or Welcome Portal, has been instrumental in welcoming new families to Catlin Gabel. As many schools know, it can be difficult to balance communication with new students and parents between enrollment and matriculation. Catlin Gabel realized they were communicating too much and wanted to share information in a simplified manner.
We wanted to be helpful and efficient with our communication; keeping parents engaged while honoring that they are still at their current school.
Instead of sending dozens of disparate emails from multiple groups and departments, Catlin Gabel built a dedicated portal that houses all relevant information prior to the upcoming academic year. This streamlined process makes it easy to find information and stay engaged before school starts. A monthly New Student and Family newsletter was also created to help drive families to the new Welcome Portal.
Another benefit of portals is the ability to easily share and update internal information in a safe, secure, and centralized location. With reporting, for example: Catlin Gabel can create a query in Veracross and share a link via the faculty or employee portal. Staff can easily access and run this report whenever they need it, helping the school to learn valuable information about their community with little effort.
Outside of portals, Catlin Gabel uses Veracross to send major email and SMS communications. Each grade-level and school division send a weekly newsletter or daily bulletin with information relevant to their students and parents. Catlin Gabel’s alumni and advancement offices also use Veracross Composer to send major communications. The drag-and-drop functionality is easy to use and customizable for each department.
Each of these features has helped improve engagement and unify Catlin Gabel School. The Veracross student information system empowers every member of their community to easily find information and, more importantly, act on it. To learn how your school can become a data-driven institution, get in touch with our sales team.