We get it. New national, state, and local guidelines land on your desk every day. Plus, you can't forget all those other issues. Coaches, communication, concussions, clearances, and compliance... yeah, they'll all be issues again too.
Before you unlock the gates, be sure that you have the procedures in place to establish evidence-based records providing support for your reopening decisions. Create a plan that includes a centralized database of evidence to help confirm and justify decisions. Because as you know, every decision will be scrutinized and questioned.
Superintendents, technology directors, and athletic directors awake each morning to a new batch of news from federal, state, and local resources. The news can range from regulations to recommendations surrounding the health and safety of their students, athletes, and communities. At the same time, these school district leaders receive both praise and pressure from their stakeholders.
According to the National School Board Association ("NSBA"), school district leaders should first follow guidance from state educational agencies and public health departments. After ensuring a school district is in compliance with federal, state, and local health protocols, school boards must face the challenge of preparing for both an outbreak and a reopening.
Unfortunately, time is a limited resource. School district leaders must adapt quickly using trusted resources and tools to help increase compliance with policies and procedures in order to create a safe school.
FinalForms helps leaders meet the snowballing administrative demands of COVID-19.
Athletic programs deliver a ton of upsides to communities. They teach the importance of teamwork and hard work, they build camaraderie, and they can even bring an entire community together.
Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons—such as selfish and aggressive parents, coaches that show favoritism, and donor and booster club influences—student athletics can have a dark underbelly. In this blog post, we’ll take a quick look at why bureaucracy happens and provide six tips athletic directors can use for dealing with politics in high school athletics.
Athletic directors are responsible for creating and protecting a safe and educational sports experience across their districts.
To do this, they need to make sure that authorized students (i.e., those who have submitted all of their forms) are allowed to participate. And at the same time, they need to ensure unauthorized students (i.e., students who haven’t submitted forms, have medical conditions, or have recently suffered a concussion) are not allowed to participate.
With many moving parts in the average sports program, it can be difficult to stay on top of everything.
Here are some of the more common mistakes districts make with respect to athletic clearance forms—and how you can fix them.
Many districts still rely on legacy school management systems they’ve been using for decades, often combination of spreadsheets and software to organize and distribute student data. While these systems might work well enough, they leave much to be desired. Tracking down information can be difficult and time-consuming, the process lends itself to human error with illegible handwriting and data-entry mishaps, and the parent experience suffers as families have to fill out the same information over and over again, among other things.
The good news is that—in the age of disruption—new digital school management systems have emerged that largely solve all of these problems.
As an IT director for a school district, you have a lot on your plate. You play a critical role in ensuring a strong educational experience for students, and it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day. Refocusing on your professional development can keep you sharp, while helping you deliver more value to taxpayers and prove you’re committed to being the best IT director you can be.
As an athletic director, your list of demands, responsibilities, and requirements is never-ending. You must serve your support system from top to bottom, from incoming athletes and their parents all the way up to your superintendent. The time commitment and communication requirements are daunting, but every year you do it. And, education-based athletics will continue to thrive based on herculean efforts of people like you.
As an athletic director, you’re tasked with doing everything you can to ensure an optimal athletics experience for all students, parents, coaches, and members of the community. To do that, you need to keep safety and legal issues in high school athletics top of mind. Mitigating risk, ensuring compliance, and preventing negligence are all important pieces of AD job descriptions today. This is in large part because districts across the country faceincreasing regulations and we live in an increasingly litigious society.
While your staffers may think "forms" when they hear FinalForms, our stats tell us there is an even more popular use for our online registration system: email communication. Staying connected with staff, parents, and students can be an uphill battle. However, in the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, email communication is a critical lifeline. Staffers relied on FinalForms' uninterrupted, zero-delay service to send 4.5 million emails last month.
As a superintendent, your job is to create an educational environment that helps students reach their full academic potential. One effective way to do that is by enacting parent engagement strategies that encourage parents to get involved in the educational experience.
But many parents are busy, and there are only so many hours in the day. To make parent engagement more attainable for your district—and create a better learning environment with stronger educational outcomes—use these 12 parent engagement strategies:
Our team is proud to announce that we've completely revamped our new student enrollment features.
Based on first-hand interaction with customers, we've confirmed that managing new student enrollment is one of the most critical, and potentially stressful, jobs in the school district.
While FinalForms streamlines the parent experience, especially for those with many children, there is a lot more work to do for administrators. The central office staff may need to review student information and decide whether to enroll the student, while building staff must ensure specific student information gets to the right reports and the right hands at the right time. Collecting the right information, determining enrollment statuses, and pleasing time-crunched parents can really create nightmares for your most valuable staffers. Don't worry, we're here to help!
The "Why" Behind the Update...
We listened to your feedback and guidance. Thanks to your insight, we added features and options that truly help your administration save time and eliminate hundreds of headaches and phone calls.
For your staff:
Approve enrollments before they are included in your student database
Customize enrollment statuses such as JVS, N, R, O, etc.
Review RCards with critical enrollment information such as IEPs, District of Residence, and more
Track enrollment history throughout a student's time at your district
View enrollment statuses to be relative to specific school years
Configure school choice options
Start services immediately for students requiring attention at kindergarten screening
For your parents:
Reduced workload first-time applicant parents
Upload required documentation
Intro to Enrollment Records
Many administrators use our academic, athletic, and medical screens to use lists, statuses, and email options. Now, we've added an additional 'enrollment' screen allowing your registrars to view lists, review forms, email parents, and enroll students. Beyond that, administrators may modify enrollment statuses when it's necessary to withdraw, transfer, or archive a student.
Many districts have the same problems with school registration—even though it’s one of the most critical processes for every school. Getting students to fill out forms is only half the battle. Even if everyone fills their forms out quickly, you often have to manually enter them into a student information system. This isn’t exactly the most efficient and exciting process. Plus, it lends itself to human error.
Partnering with the right online school forms provider can transform your district, bringing more efficiency to your processes while making it easier to achieve 100 percent form compliance and reduce liabilities.
Traditionally, the student enrollment process has frustrated parents—particularly if they have several kids.
Parents must fill out a seemingly never-ending pile of forms and jump through hoops just to enroll their kids in school, ensure they’re eligible to play sports, and give them permission to leave school grounds on field trips, among other things.
Some of these forms are time-sensitive which presents another challenge. Fingers crossed that the parent knows that the relevant form is required and turns it in on time, otherwise their child might not be eligible to participate in a certain program or—even worse for the district—the child goes on a school trip and the parents have no idea where their child is.
Activities that require payments can be especially tricky. Parents often have to trust their kids to keep track of paper checks and hand them in to the appropriate school administrator, which can be a tall order.
You’ve decided to invest in athletic director software, but you know you can’t just buy any old solution and expect incredible results. As with anything else, you need to do your due diligence and research your options in order to pinpoint a vendor that meets your criteria and needs most effectively.
As you begin your search for the best athletic director software, here are seven questions you should ask to narrow down your options.
In our smartphone-powered world, many schools are still relying on an abundance of paper forms to manage their operations. Paper forms may get the job done, but they create inefficiencies, aren’t convenient, and can get misplaced, lost, or stolen.
Online school forms are the better way forward. Not only do they meet parent, student, and staff expectations, but they also deliver a tremendous number of benefits.
Need some more convincing? Let’s take a look at seven reasons to move from paper to online school forms today.
Athletic directors know full well how tricky it can be to get the signatures needed from students, parents, physicians, and staff on high school athletic physical forms.
When you rely on paper forms only, additional challenges arise, such as illegible handwriting, misplaced files, and a time-exhaustive data-entry process to transfer the information over to your student information system.
Students can’t participate in sports activities until their physical forms are turned in. To improve the student-athlete experience and ensure that all students who want to play sports are eligible, districts need to do everything they can to optimize the form distribution and collection processes.
With that in mind, here are some tips to enhance those processes and, as a result, ensure a higher percentage of students are eligible for sports when the season begins:
If you’re like many athletic directors, you probably spend more time every day than you’d like managing endless paperwork, tracking down students, and parents to get signatures, and reconciling incomplete or incorrect data.
Investing in a modern student-athlete management system can address many of these frustrating daily struggles. In fact, with the right technology, you can also make it easier to keep parents informed, while increasing the likelihood that athletes meet eligibility requirements and are healthy enough to play—not to mention reducing medical, legal, PR, and insurance risks for your school and district.
Here’s how a student-athlete management system does all those things:
What Is the National Athletic Directors Conference?
The NADC is America’s premier annual conference for interscholastic sports administrators. This year, more than 2,000 ADs are expected to attend the event on Dec. 13–17, 2019, at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.
What is your definition of registration? Is it tossing papers in a stack? Or, is it a process including collection, verification, and distribution? Historically, “registration” has been associated with completion of paperwork or online forms. But registration has evolved. Athletic Administrators must collect accurate information using a single system for parents, students, and staff; then ensure data rests in the right hands before a deadline or, worse, an emergency. Do these changing demands require re-thinking registration?
We are sensitive to all security and privacy concerns. In fact, security and privacy are our top priorities in providing our services to thousands of school districts throughout the United States. We are often asked if our service is subject to any federal privacy laws. Keep reading to learn how federal privacy laws apply to FinalForms.
We often receive the following question from district administrators, assistants, and secretaries:
"Do you have any suggestions to drive parent and student action based on your experience with so many districts?"
Excellent question! We understand the dilemma. School districts and athletic departments need specific information to ensure compliance with district policies. Even more important, this information may be used to ensure student safety throughout the day, on trips, and in extracurricular activities. The problem is: Parents are busy and might not realize just how easy it is to complete online forms.
We’re here to help!
We believe there are 3 steps to 100% form completion:
The FinalForms Scholarship, awarded by WSSAAA, provides financial assistance to first-year athletic administrators for the WSSAAA Annual Conference. FinalForms puts forth funds to allow WSSAAA to select 5 athletic administrators attend the conference or participate in NIAAA leadership training courses.
“We consider it an honor to provide the scholarship. FinalForms’ core values revolve around improving education-based athletics,” states Steve Frucci, “By helping these ADs gain education and exposure to best practices, we’re helping to raise the bar.”
“As a first-year Athletic Director, I have been seeking different opportunities to gain Professional Development experiences. The WSSAAA Conference is just one great way for me to learn and make important contacts and connections,” says last year’s recipient Kristin DiJosie of Lakewood High School, “As a result of earning this scholarship, I was able to enroll in a leadership course that counts for credit toward my Certified Athletic Administrator credentials.”
The Quisenberry Service Award, awarded by the Ohio Senate, recognizes special contributions, leadership and service to interscholastic athletics in Ohio as well as the local and state level. It is presented to an individual from outside the profession of athletic administration who has made powerful improvements and offered quality service to interscholastic athletes.
“It’s truly fulfilling to receive the honor. The recognition of FinalForms’ impact on education-based athletics is an unprecedented distinction for our team, product and service,” claims Burnett, “Our commitment to school district compliance and student safety, as well as the integrity of our staff supports our offering, which drives industry standards in education technology.”
Burnett has led the explosive growth of FinalForms while setting new industry standards, annually doubling revenues, and maintaining a flawless client retention record. Today he's fulfilling his vision of building a team, designing a product, and providing a service that dramatically improves both education and athletics.
“You have striven to better the world around you, and your intuitiveness and integrity has earned you the esteem of all who know you. We are certain that you will continue to put forth the same unwavering commitment to excellence for which you have become known, and your accomplishments will encourage your fellow citizens to join together and enact improvement not only for our state’s prosperity but also for the advancement of tomorrow’s leaders,” wrote Senator Larry Obhof, President of the Ohio Senate.
Burnett accepted the award at the Northeast Ohio Interscholastic Athletic Administration Association awards banquet in April.
Photo: Left: Clay Burnett; Right: Kevin Leigh, Athletic Director, Padua Franciscan High School.
Security and compliance are shared responsibilities between AWS, FinalForms, and the School District (Customer). This model helps relieve FinalForms’ operational burden as AWS operates, manages and controls the components from the host operating system and virtualization layer down to the physical security of the facilities in which the service operates. In turn, FinalForms has responsibility and management of the operating system (including updates and security patches), other associated application software as well as the configuration of the AWS provided security group firewall. As shown in the chart below, this differentiation of responsibility is commonly referred to as Security “of” the Cloud versus Security “in” the Cloud. FinalForms carefully considers the services provisioned as responsibilities vary depending on the nature of the services, the integration of those services into the IT environment, and applicable laws and regulations. The Shared Responsibility Model is designed to provide FinalForms with flexibility and control over technology and the School District with flexibility and control over authorized user access.
There is no FERPA certification for a service provider such as FinalForms. In order to meet the FERPA requirements applicable to our operating model, FinalForms aligns our FERPA risk management program, detailed below.
The FinalForms–ProgressBook certification and integration processes are 100% complete meaning school districts throughout Ohio can now integrate two of their most crucial applications: FinalForms and ProgressBook. The integration connects FinalForms’ premier data collection, verification, and distribution system with Software Answers’ robust ProgressBook Student Information System (SIS).
We love questions. A curious prospect often turns into a content customer. Whether you’re shaking hands at a conference or sitting for a complete product demonstration, your time with each potential service provider is limited. The best way to maximize these meetings is to be prepared.
Each year more than 2,000 Athletic Directors descend upon a premier host city to take courses, participate in workshops, earn certification, and visit exhibitors. This year, that city is San Antonio, and the educational opportunities are better than ever.
“One of the most important things Athletic Directors can do is join and participate in their State and National Associations,” claims Bruce Brown, OIAAA Executive Director. “The Annual Conference provides ADs with the opportunity to gain perspective on leadership in the evolving landscape of education-based athletics.”
Here are just a few of the many workshop offerings:
Mentoring Coaches for Their Personal Growth
Increasing Student Participation and Retention
Why Encourage Multi-Sport Participation?
… and a few key courses for every Athletic Director:
When Cross Country Coach Clay Burnett, now CEO, signed the first 12 schools in 2012, he wasn’t thinking exponential growth; he was attempting to solve simple problems.
Now the FinalForms team, comprised of 20+, serves 1,200+ schools in 16 states. FinalForms solves an extraordinary number of problems by understanding needs and deploying data management solutions. Features include automated options to manage parent communication, coach certification, and athlete eligibility as well as specialized solutions for attendance, inventory, and urgent mental health notifications.
“The core vision of FinalForms remains helping our schools collect, verify, and distribute data to guarantee compliance and increase safety,” states Burnett. “We keep things simple and solve the problems that plague every athletic department.”
FinalForms is actively expanding the team by adding ambassadors and salespeople in strategic markets. “It’s all about the people,” claims Burnett. “From a coach’s perspective, we’re assembling a dream team.” The ever-expanding team expects to follow a rapid growth trajectory for years to come.
“We’re proud to be first on board in North Carolina. FinalForms delivers a unique set of features and services previously unavailable in our market,” says Jamie Lee, Athletic Director at Cleveland High School in Johnston County, North Carolina.
1,000 schools and 5 new states may be the story right now, but stay tuned… breaking news is the norm for FinalForms.
The FinalForms Team understands what schools need when they ask for new features. While past payment features covered the basic need to process online payments, there was a level of service that remained out-of-reach.
The most recent round of Summer 2018 updates includes 7 major updates that transform FinalForms into a full service online payment system:
Multi-School Family Caps
Partial Payment Status for Payment Plans
External Payment Mode for Checks and Cash
Billing for Missing Equipment
Improved Receipts for Parents
Julie Renner, Director of Operations, validated the Sales Team reports and Client requests for improvements. “In my 23 years as an educator, payment plans were always a headache. I knew FinalForms could help.” Renner coordinated with the Development Team to plot the plan for optimization. The enhancements are scheduled for delivery in July 2018.
When FinalForms CEO Clay Burnett returns from a conference or meeting, his first stop is often the track. Burnett’s boundless energy leads both teams and individuals to reaching heights beyond what most think possible.
Since 2015, Burnett’s tracksters racked up 6 State Championships, 2 Silver Medals, 2 Bronze Medals and 5 additional podium spots. Remarkably, the feats include a 3-peat in the Girls 4x800m and a 1600m State Record: 4:05.62.
Burnett is a cerebral, charismatic force to be reckoned with in any arena of competition. “My focus is maximizing potential when it counts the most,” states Burnett. His aura visibly brightens when peak performance is the topic.
“Clay’s ability to gauge competition, uncover weaknesses and utilize strengths is unique. He creates capable teams and boosts performance to an exaggerated level. He’s an admirable leader,” explains rival Coach Chris Ickes of Kenston High School.
During the same years Burnett earned statewide respect for his track program, he’s elevated FinalForms to the lead of the education technology industry. The FinalForms team of educators and peerless product quickly create enthusiastic advocates out of every day users. Burnett’s track record for business includes 6 consecutive years of triple-digit growth and a nearly perfect client retention report.
“I’m excited about what’s to come. We have revolutionary ideas on the whiteboard that will really open your eyes in the next few years. Stay tuned!” Burnett exclaims as he walks out the office door, back to the track.
Thanks to our latest partner, Learn21/CoSN Ohio, we’ve formulated a comprehensive resource for best practices with student data. Whether you're considering FinalForms or investigating online student data in general, we believe the following information will provide a good foundation for your research.
Military Grade Physical Controls + Enterprise Grade Security = Piece of Mind
FinalForms is hosted in entirety on our infrastructure on Amazon Web Services (AWS) EC2 and S3 instances. We chose AWS specifically because of its prolific scale, redundancy, and emphasis on data privacy & security.
The Amazon Web Services infrastructure is designed and managed according to the highest standards for security and data protection, including SOC 1, 2, 3, PCI DSS Level 1, ISO 27001, FIPS 140-2, and more, as well as military-grade physical controls. Enterprise-grade security ensures data stays secure with SSL encryption. To provide continuous availability, FinalForms is deployed on multiple data centers. Every piece of data is automatically copied to multiple locations for redundancy – ensuring data is always available.
Our technology partnership with Amazon Web Services enables us to meet our commitment to securing customer data.
Frequently, FinalForms is used to store sensitive student health and demographic information on behalf of various school systems. Knowing this from the outset, we thoroughly researched and rigorously vetted a rock-solid solution that meets national educational industry standards.
This document details the steps we've taken at each layer to meet medical information standards and a multitude of other regulation programs.