Situated in the northernmost point of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Frederick County is home to 78,300 residents. The county’s 20 schools and education centers have 2,056 fulltime employees who serve 13,000 students.
Going paperless: Frederick County Public Schools converts decades of paper student records to electronic format
Printers & Multifunction Devices
As school districts continue to deal with financial challenges, they actively seek ways to save money by becoming more effective and efficient. For Virginia’s Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS), one initiative has been moving toward a paperless records management system.
“We had a warehouse full of paper records for every student with birth dates going back to the 1930s,” said Sue Daniels, FCPS’s software support specialist. In complying with state records retention laws, the volume of paperwork had become expensive to maintain because of the valuable space it occupied in FCPS facilities. “We believed that by imaging several thousand records, we could eliminate the paper, reclaim the storage space and speed-up document retrieval.”
After verifying that electronic archiving satisfied Virginia’s legal standard for retention, the district set out to find an economical solution that included front-end scanning hardware, workflow software and an electronic document management system (EDMS). A key requirement was that the system be simple enough for the group of mostly retired staffers who would be hired to do the scanning, indexing and archiving.
Coincidentally, FCPS’s finance department had recently embarked on a similar search for its own historical paper records, going so far as to engage Lexmark for a 30-day pilot test. “Even though Finance had not quite reached a full-scale roll-out, our IT department believed the same approach could work for the student records project as well,” said Daniels.
After conducting its own successful pilot test, FCPS installed the Lexmark Document Management Platform (DocMP) and Lexmark X656dte MFP to scan its vast storage of paper records, convert them to electronic format and index each for instant retrieval. Designed to make document storage and retrieval easy and affordable, Lexmark DocMP supports the entire document storage lifecycle, including handling, remote capture and active workflow through long-term retention and final disposition in accordance with prevailing policies
For processing and storing imaged documents, the district installed Intellivue™ software from Intellinetics. Engineers from Lexmark and Intellinetics worked in partnership, developing custom applications, scripts and workflows.
The crew of seven retired administrators, teachers and secretaries will handle thousands of folders of student records. The process will have them stacking the documents in the scanner and following the customized prompts on the large, color touch screen operator panel on the Lexmark MFP. Next, documents will be scanned and checked for proper alignment. The resulting document images will then be stored in Intellivue as TIFF files in an SQL database. When records are retrieved, they will be served up as PDF files for ondemand viewing, printing or forwarding via email. Archived documents will include student academic and health records, test results and demographic data sheets.
With its Lexmark MFP featuring DocMP installed and the Intellivue software in place, FCPS’s project to scan tens of thousands of folders containing student records is well under way. Once the scanning process is completed, the Lexmark solution should then cut record retrieval from days to minutes.
One potential concern, the feeding of tattered, fragile records through the scanner, never materialized. “The reliability of the Lexmark scanner with these old documents has been very good,” said Daniels. Of the thousands of sheets already scanned, only a couple of misfeeds have been encountered. The ability to use the glass scanner has also been helpful in handling these documents.
Working with Lexmark has been a positive experience for FCPS. “Lexmark took the time to listen to us and understand our specific needs,” said Daniels. “What especially impressed us was that Lexmark crafted a custom solution to fit our requirements instead of forcing us to fit our needs into their products.”
Sue Daniels Software Support SpecialistWhat especially impressed us was that Lexmark crafted a custom solution to fit our requirements instead of forcing us to fit our needs into their products.
Though initial implementation is complete, Lexmark continues to maintain an active in-person presence at FCPS. “Lexmark has been very responsive to us,” said Daniels. “Our Lexmark account representative checks in with us monthly and brings IntelliVue representatives along for meetings involving their product. That partnership is important to us.”
FCPS is now looking for additional ways to drive paper out of its workflows. “We have the ability to write our own custom workflow scripts and expect to see other projects established throughout the district,” said Daniels.
For the Frederick County Public Schools, ensuring that each budget dollar is spent wisely remains a top priority. With its Lexmark solution and the space-savings achieved, that priority is being met and earning high marks.