Computerized solutions are used at all levels of the educational enterprise to support the automation and management of the district. Major business applications are installed centrally, and additional software is available at the school sites to computerize many of their local operations. All administrators, teachers, and staff have a desktop computer with Microsoft Office Pro, access to the Internet, email, and software applications necessary for their job responsibilities.
Key administrative applications are provided in the following areas:
- Major Business Applications
- Student Information Management
- Other District Applications
- School Operations
- Guilford County Schools' Website
Major Business Applications
Guilford County Schools maintain several major business applications, including Financial, Payroll, Purchasing, Human Resource Management, Transportation Management, and Cafeteria Management Systems.
Most of the business applications are operational on the central IBM iSeries 400 computer located at the Eugene Street building. It is connected to the wide-area network for access from remote sites. In addition, a smaller duplicate iSeries 400 computer is installed at a secondary site should the central unit have a disruption of service, The security policies and the backup and recovery procedures for the iSeries 400 are documented annually for the external audit of the general financial statements.
Financial Management SunPac Financial Management System is the primary financial software used in the district. It provides an integrated software package for general ledger, budget control, purchasing, accounts payable, and inventory management. Also, all school districts use a state-provided purchasing system called NC eProcurement. The software provides electronic processing of quotes, bids, term contracts, new vendors, and purchase order delivery.
Human Resource Management System North Carolina also provides a Human Resource Management System (HRMS) to districts to manage employee data. Guilford County uses the Applications, Employee Action, Position Management, CEU Renewals, and Vacancy Management modules of HRMS. This data is considered "the master database" for all personnel tracking. It is used to populate other software packages, to create email user accounts and to initiate employee changes in the Payroll system.
Child Nutrition Systems The Child Nutrition Department also uses SunPac for centralized management of its general funding. Another suite of software products called MealsPlus is used to manage school cafeteria operations. All school cafeterias have the MealsPlus Point of Sale, Free & Reduced, and Inventory Management modules. The software maintains information on menu items, inventories, meal counts, money collected, free and reduced applications, and it produces reports necessary to meet the requirements of the federal School Lunch Program. In addition, parents can make prepayments and view what a student is purchasing using the integrated Web Payments module.
Maintenance Requests The Maintenance Department is responsible for the ongoing maintenance and requested improvements of the district's building and equipment. All work orders are processed using the Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS). Accessing a centralized database, school administrators enter all maintenance requests. The system tracks the progress of requests, materials used, and time workers spend on projects.
Electrical wiring and climate control are also the responsibility of the Maintenance Department. Although most Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems use different equipment throughout the district, Maintenance has been able to connect the systems to our wide area network for centralized management. They remotely maintain threshold and temperature settings. Many systems automatically alert Maintenance workers when problems occur.
Facilities The Facilities Department is responsible for the management of all new construction and renovation projects. The department recently implemented Primavera's Expedition Professional. The web-based software is used by facilities, other department heads, vendors, and contractors. It assists with the management of construction projects, including contracts, budgets, punch lists, change orders, reviews and approvals, payments, and cost analysis.
Transportation Approximately 45,000 students ride one of more than 700 school buses to and from school each day. The district's Transportation Department uses the state-provided Transportation Information Management System (TIMS). TIMS manages stops, runs, routes, and student information. It enables central office employees, and 25 remotely-located Routing Specialists to access the centralized database. Street data from Guilford County's Geographic Information System (GIS) is downloaded to provide new street locations to the TIMS system.
Student Information Management
PowerSchool - Each school site uses the state-provided student information management system called PowerSchool. PowerSchool is a web-based system for managing student information. It provides teachers and administrators with direct and immediate access to a full array of data on a student's entire enrollment in North Carolina school systems. PowerSchool data is considered "the master database" for all student information and is used to populate all other software packages on a scheduled basis.
Other District Applications
- Help Desk Software
School/Department Technology Contact Persons use a web-based Help Desk System to enter all requests for Technology Services – hardware issues, installation of software, additional cabling, email problems, etc. The school/department contact can view the history log of the ticket as it progresses toward completion. Users are notified via email when a ticket is assigned and completed.
- Communication Software
Blackboard Connect-5 is being used for telephone communications between principals and parents. Administrators can record, schedule, send, and track personalized voice messages to parents or staff in minutes. The message may be sent to all students at a school or a subgroup. In addition, the software can interact with student information files and be used to alert parents that students were absent from school.
- Professional Development Management Software
A new Internet-based software application, Wisdomwhere, was purchased to assist with the management of all employees' professional development activities. Locally referred to as "PD Management," the system provides employees with updated information about system-wide and school-based training options. It enables participants to search for a particular course, views the full description, and sees when the course is offered. If space is available, the participant can register online. Also, teachers can access information about their renewal cycle, previous courses taken, and current credit renewal totals.
- School Operations
Teachers have an electronic grade book and classroom attendance module within PowerSchool, web page development software (Blackboard Web Community Manager), and an assessment tool.
School administrators have additional various reporting tools and telephone communications messaging software (Connect-5). The state-provided HRMS system is available to principals and supervisors for the hiring process and other employee management actions.
All employees have access to the new staff development activities software (PD Management). Workshop participants may search for a particular course, view the full description, see when the course is offered, and then register online.
The district uses AESOP. Teachers who need substitutes call designated telephone numbers and using a touchtone phone, record their absence. They may enter a specific substitute or request that the system makes an assignment.
All media centers are automated for circulation and cataloging with Follett Library Management Software.
For security, many of these systems have been designed to be Intranet applications. Intranet applications require users to be connected to the Guilford County Schools' network (directly or through a VPN) and have proper user identification. User identifications and access are correlated to the HRMS system employment assignment and maintained in the Active Directory.
Guilford County Schools' Web Site
The main web site was established in 1996 and was converted to Blackboard Web Community Manager in January 2018. The site continues to serve as the primary online source for Guilford County Schools' information. Features include drop-down menus, a banner of special announcements, site search functions, and a Quick Links section for popular links.
The main links include:
- current news and information
- employment opportunities and salary schedules
- school web pages
- curriculum and initiatives
- system-wide calendar
- construction updates
- bus routes searchable by the school or bus number
- lunch menus and prepay options
- board policies and archived board minutes
- redistricting maps
- school improvement plans
- magnet school options
- employee services section
Throughout the year, special pages are created in support of seasonal announcements and events such as the budget process, inclement weather guidelines, back-to-school information, and the Magnet Fair.
The employee services page, called "e-services," includes web-based applications and information that are intended for Guilford County employees only. These programs may be password protected or available only through the Intranet. An organized menu provides links to online applications, such as the Professional Development System, Help Desk, Maintenance Work Orders, and Human Resource Management System.
With school redistricting plans continuing to change, redistricting maps and a quick link, called School Locator, was added. An address can be keyed, and the system will access the school assignments for the current and future years.
The Work4GCS is a section designed specifically for prospective employees. The easy-to-use portal provides information about our schools, employment opportunities, benefits, incentives, and the hiring process.
Schools maintain their own webpages where schools and individual teachers can publish information, newsletters, calendars, and various other documents. The district maintains a template for each school's cover page. The template ensures that each school's introductory information is available and consistent throughout the district. Blackboard Web Community Manager allows individual school customization on subsequent pages.