West Warwick Public Schools, RI
- Industry: K-12 Education
- Tyler Client Since: 2016
- Number of Employees: 497
- Location: West Warwick, Rhode Island
- Tyler Product Used: Infinite Visions®
Investing in New Software Expands District’s Ability to Support Students
West Warwick, Rhode Island, is a suburban community boasting six schools, which support more than 3,500 students annually. To continuously invest in its student body, officials with West Warwick Public Schools understand the benefits of leveraging up-to-date technology. In 2015, however, the district found itself using an outdated, manual system that left lots of room for error. Pulling reports was cumbersome, making it difficult to achieve transparency between the district and its stakeholders.
The Deciding Factor
Director of Financial Operations Joseph Spagna oversees the district’s day-to-day business, including budgeting, purchasing, and payroll, in a role that requires visibility and control of reporting and budgets. Without a solution capable of automating these processes, efficiency was impacted greatly.
“It would take me almost eight hours to do one school committee report with that system. When I joined West Warwick Public Schools, everything was manual,” Spagna said. “It wasn’t user friendly. In my first six months on the job, there was a billion-dollar difference in my budget. There was no security around the program. Anybody could go in and create one mistake that caused that big variance. At that point in time, I said, ‘This is unacceptable.’”
Uncertainty over the accuracy of the system’s data was becoming a yearly concern for district officials, leading them to seek out new technology solutions. Together with a state committee, Spagna evaluated various vendors to join the Rhode Island Master Price Agreement, allowing school districts and local governments across the state to more easily procure software. The committee aimed to identify a vendor that could streamline day-to-day processes, improve internal controls, deliver budget accuracy, and simplify reporting.
“We had several vendors that came in, and, as a committee, we found Tyler to be the most advantageous,” he said. “The process was in-depth. It was considerable. There was a lot of work to be done, but I think we came out with the best product available.”
Today, the district has completely evolved their financial processes by leveraging the technology within Tyler’s Infinite Visions® software.
“This solution improves control over the budget. That’s a huge feature. There’s a lot of segregation of duty that takes place also,” Spagna said. “The efficiencies, the ease of use — they’re phenomenal. It’s basically a click of a button to generate reports now. Those are all big wins.”
With the new system in place, West Warwick Public Schools runs more efficiently and produces reports more accurately. The new system also gives staff and school committee members the transparency and access they had been looking for.
“I can inform our public and interested parties almost immediately as to where our standing is with the budget and where we’re at financially,” Spagna said. “The department heads, principals, and even the superintendent — they’re very appreciative of the system. They’ve got more fiscal control over their budgets. It opens up a lot of resources for them for the kids.”
It’s turned the school district around. We’re recognizing surpluses every year because we have that level of control over our spending.
Director of Financial Operations
Greater financial insight and fiscal control has allowed the district to identify opportunities to expand student resources — something they had not been able to do years prior.
“It’s turned the school district around. We’re recognizing surpluses every year because we have that level of control over our spending,” Spagna said. “We’ve just approved a five-year capital plan. We’ve invested $1 million into that fund. With the state aid that returns to us, that’ll turn into almost $3 million. We’ve been able to start a one-to-one Chromebook campaign. Previously they were leased machines. With the savings and the curriculum we’ve put into place, we’ve been able to put district funds to better use for the students.”
West Warwick Public Schools has seen a great benefit from updating the district data solutions.
“In making an investment in a product, we want to fully use it,” Spagna said. “It shouldn’t be a glorified payroll system and checkbook.”
Through the joint efforts of West Warwick Public Schools and Tyler, Infinite Visions helped to decrease costs and increase efficiency and accuracy at every level, allowing more resources to flow back to their students and future endeavors within the district.