The New Age of Charter Schools

Last Updated on May 21, 2020 by bigfish-admin

What a school year this has been, one for the history books! Summer is nearing and, although COVID-19 is causing uncertainty, you’re likely starting to think about next year—staffing, enrollment, benefits, technology, school supplies, budgets; the list goes on. Now, more than ever, there is a cultural shift taking place, in which schools are integrating technology to their everyday practices.

With this cultural shift comes new challenges: everything from the hiring process, to labor allocation, to how teachers are rewarded, to how talent is measured may change. Technological integration began when business managers wanted to stop jumping through hoops to complete simple tasks, and realized they could reduce headaches and streamline manual processes with technology. Adopting more technology in schools will allow school leaders to focus on reaching academic excellence instead of spending hours doing data entry.

It may seem overwhelming to think about tackling a whole new technology stack and changing the status quo, so let’s take it slow. Not sure where to start? Here are a few things to think about.

Hiring Doesn’t Have to Be So Hard

Finding teachers and staff who align with your charter school’s mission statement can be challenging enough. When you combine the ‘war on talent’ with faulty resumes, unstructured onboarding processes, and the overwhelming fear of another bad hire, the whole process can be daunting. When your school does a mass onboarding each year to bring on new staff, business managers can be left with hours of unnecessary manual work. What a headache. 

However, with the right tool, tasks like posting open positions, sifting through resumes, scheduling candidates for interviews, tracking applications, and (hopefully) onboarding the cream of the crop can be done from a single database. Big Fish offers an integrated Applicant Tracking System (ATS) which can accommodate a range of small, medium and large-scale hiring initiatives, while providing critical data that allows you to be more confident in your hiring decisions. This technology provides insight into which roles an applicant has applied for and provides background information on their work history (such as whether they’ve been let go from another location). It will also guide you to the hiring databases that have the highest success rate for the roles you’re looking to fill (LinkedIn, EDJOIN, k12 Job Spot, Indeed, etc.). 

Empowering Your Teachers Made Easy

Here’s the thing: Charter schools have already made the effort to integrate technology into their K-12 classrooms to set students and teachers up for successful collaboration. However, we typically do not see the same technological efforts being made to support the behind-the-scenes workings of school administrations. Why is that?  

In order to empower your students, you must empower your teachers and your administrative staff. It is important to remember that it starts at the top, and teachers are empowered by you—the administrative staff. So, if you’re operating on a lean staff with archaic technology, you’ll never have an empowered operation. Employee Self Service (ESS) is the missing piece to your puzzle. ESS allows teachers to access pay stubs, performance reviews, request PTO, upload skills, complete certification trainings, and manage benefits—no more stacks of paper files for every employee. We’re serious; everything is electronic. This helps to streamline your job, and dramatically reduce the hours you spend on administrative tasks, while empowering your teachers.

Uncharted Territory

Unlike a public school, as a charter school, you are fully responsible for managing and staying compliant with ever-changing HR regulations. This includes onboarding templates, performance reviews, benefit enrollment information, sick pay, disability, termination, and so much more. You are expected to do all of this, with a budget and team that are already incredibly lean. 

This is where Big Fish comes in. We’ll help you navigate this minefield. Our HR Managed Services (HRMS) may be exactly what you need. We will act as your HR partner, advocate, and resource. We’ll start by diving deep into your current HR practices, with a 200+ question audit. As fun as that sounds, we do it because we want to really know you and your school. This gives us the foundation to get to work on the right things for you. We will help redo your onboarding templates, construct performance reviews, edit write-ups and terminations, rebuild your handbook, and even create job descriptions, ensuring they’re spot-on for what you need—no more guessing games, or ‘one size fits all.’ You’ll be able to rely on knowledgeable experts and great technology to get the job done so you can focus on what you do best. 

Labor Allocation Doesn’t Have to be so Hard

Certified and classified positions make labor allocation a bit more complicated, because charter schools have more hiring flexibility. The ability to hire qualified individuals who offer significant professional experience in their subject, but are not traditionally credentialed, can leave business managers and CFO’s crunching numbers that just don’t add up at the end of the pay period.

Big Fish’s technology, iSolved, automates and simplifies this entire process. Staff administrators and teachers can ‘clock in’ to various positions within the school, and each position can be assigned a specific pay rate. With this technology, teachers and staff members can clock in and out multiple times a day, take lunch breaks, and view their timecards, all from their desktop or phone. The software also allows edits to be made by supervisors or teachers before a business manager even views or approves the timecard.  

Payroll and HR companies have integrations that allow time keeping data to feed into directly payroll calculations, which will also feed into any general ledger system, and automate your reporting. That means no more scrambling to track down sticky notes, Google docs, and Outlook reminders to find data that can easily (and really should) be stored in an HRIS system. You can also pull reports at any time during a pay period to see a breakdown of payroll expenses in real-time.

We understand that you have to operate on a lean back office, but it doesn’t have to mean you have to be operating on archaic technology. When you give your school and your staff the benefit of great technology, you set everyone up to succeed. Check out our website, to learn more about how Big Fish works with Charter Schools directly, on the issues that matter most. Then let’s have a conversation today about how your school’s current process could be improved by running on the technology it needs!

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