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Area school districts losing student information system provider

Administrators seek replacement quickly

Some school districts are losing their student information system provider, and are attempting to transition to a new system in less than a year.

Tyler Technologies, an international technology solutions company, is shutting down its student information branch, Tyler SIS, which is used by Butler Area School District, Slippery Rock Area School District and Karns City Area School District.

Eric Ritzert, Karns City superintendent, said the district has been using Tyler SIS as its student information provider for about five years. He said the system houses data for the school district.

“That handles the grading system, student schedules, all their background info to generate transcripts,” Ritzert said. “It's a necessary system to have.”

Butler’s assistant superintendent Brian Slamecka and Slippery Rock’s superintendent Alfonso Angelucci each said their district has been using Tyler SIS for around five years as well. Students and staff log into the system through their own respective district websites, and they can access homework assignments and grades.

Slamecka said Tyler officials notified school administrators a few months ago that its student information system would be shutting down. In response, the Butler district assembled a committee to find a new provider, which included school board members, faculty and the district’s technology department.

The committee considered several criteria including communication, schedule building and teacher experience, and the school board selected Infinite Campus as the replacement student information system in November.

Three vendors presented product information that focused on both the student information platform and the business platform, and one additional vendor was examined during this school year, Slamecka said.

“Ultimately, the overall user experience, product impact, favorable reviews from districts who are current users and financial information guided the recommendation to Infinite Campus,” Slamecka said. “This would also include moving from a system that contains servers located onsite at the Butler Area School District, to a more secure cloud-based option through Infinite Campus.”

Karns City school district also selected Infinite Campus as its new student information system provider, with Ritzert saying that its leaders had been working with Tyler leaders.

“Behind the scenes, that company has been working with Tyler to make the transition easier and less costly,” Ritzert said. “Those were factors we evaluated and used to make that decision.

Slamecka and Ritzert each said the decision to choose Infinite Campus was not based solely on its ties to Tyler.

Ritzert said the new system will cost about $15,000 to maintain over the first year, and Slamecka presented a price study to the school board, which showed that it would cost around $12,900 for the first year, then around $85,800 for the second year of use. Comparatively, Butler school district spends about $55,000 a year on Tyler.

Slippery Rock school district has not yet chosen a replacement for Tyler, but Angelucci said he expects the school board to vote on a new provider at its Dec. 19 meeting.

Each school district will continue using Tyler until the end of the school year, while also beginning the process of transitioning to Infinite Campus.

“We will need to use Tyler over this school year. Students and parents probably won't get to experience any change until the fall of 2023,” Ritzert said. “Internally, administrators, guidance counselors, technical staff will experience it in the second semester. We'll be using both to do what we need to do.”

The transition of data, coupled with the need for teachers and students to adapt to the new system, makes the process tedious for everyone involved.

“Any time you do this transition, we don't sugarcoat it, it's difficult because it's brand new,” Angelucci said. “It's labor intensive with our own staff and the company’s staff. But it's necessary, and it's something you have to do now.”

Each of the superintendents said their district’s technology department is working to make the transition process as smooth as possible.

“We've done our due diligence; I'm pretty confident we’ll be able to handle this efficiently,” Slamecka said.

Angelucci said once a provider is chosen, district administration will work together with the provider officials to make the shift.

“We'll be fine because we have great people to work on it,” Angelucci said.

While the new student information system may cost more than the Tyler system in the long run, Ritzert said Infinite Campus seems to have an edge on the old system.

“I do think it's an improvement over the current system,” Ritzert said.

Tyler SIS will be used by each school district until the end of this school year.

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