Spring Branch Independent School District (SBISD) in Houston, Texas serves approximately 35,000 PreK-12 students across 46 campuses. The district offers a wide range of school choice options and specialized programs to prepare students for life after high school.
One unique aspect of the district is its SKY Partnership, a nationally-recognized collaboration with KIPP Houston Public Schools and YES Prep Public Schools. The partnership with these two high-performing charter management organizations expands school choice opportunities for SBISD’s middle and high school students, and allows them to benefit from the KIPP and YES Prep curricula and approach to learning.
SBISD’s school choice program is available for families that want their child to participate in one of the district’s 13 specialized programs, including the three SKY Partnership programs. Originally, the application process for these choice programs was a manual, paper-based process conducted by the individual schools. The district then transitioned to an online system but after a few years with a few different automated systems, SBISD still found that it needed a more streamlined and intuitive solution.
“Several of our schools had specific lottery requests and the previous system couldn’t handle the unique processes,” said Mandele’ Davis, school choice project manager at SBISD. “We needed a system that addressed the schools’ requirements and aligned with our district processes. We also wanted a multilingual application system available on mobile devices to increase the ease of use and accessibility for more parents.”
In Summer 2016, SBISD began to investigate options that better supported its needs.
After mapping out its application process, conducting research, and speaking with other school districts, including SchoolMint customer, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, SBISD selected SchoolMint’s automated and mobile-friendly system to manage its application and lottery process for its school choice programs in the 2016-17 school year.
“SchoolMint was the only system that could support our complex lottery needs,” said Davis. “Its common application and school ranking functionality, mobile accessibility, and dual-language features are great assets for our families.”
Plus, the powerful, real-time data visualization tools enable SBISD to monitor and adjust their marketing and family support initiatives and do more well-informed planning. “The hands-on access to information has been revolutionary for me,” Davis continues. “Not only can I monitor current school demand, I can now support our HR and school support division on more informed staffing and program projections.”
Implementation and Outreach
To ensure a successful implementation of SchoolMint, SBISD involved all stakeholders in the roll out, including the SIS team, principals, senior staff, counselors, and more, and provided training to increase buy-in and participation using the system.
The district then conducted early recruitment and outreach to families about the new system via social media, PTA newsletters, and during school functions. “This provided an opportunity for us to answer any questions parents had and help them overcome any initial tech fears,” said Davis. “Once they saw the system in action, however, they saw how easy it was to use.”
SBISD’s implementation of SchoolMint has streamlined operations and benefited everyone involved. “The baseline for success is parent and staff happiness, and this has been evident by the reduced frequency of phone calls we receive from parents with questions or frustrations about navigating the system,” said Davis. “SchoolMint provides them with an intuitive way to complete the application process.”
“SchoolMint has also saved our staff valuable time as all application data is uploaded automatically,” Davis continued. “We’re no longer consumed with being data processors during the three-month application period. We can now be counselors and registrars, and offer our families extra support and guidance as they choose the best school option for their child.”
Want to hear firsthand from Spring Branch ISD?
Listen in on our recorded webinar, featuring Mandele Davis, School Choice Project Manager at SBISD as she shares how technology tools have improved their family and staff’s happiness with their school choice experience.