Hamilton Community Schools is a public school district located in southwestern Michigan. The district, which consists of one high school, one middle school, and four elementary schools, has roughly 2,500 students and 170 staffers.
Like many districts, Hamilton had been relying on a paper-based enrollment system for decades. Seeking a better way forward, the district decided to try an online enrollment solution included with their student information system (SIS).
Unfortunately, this solution was short-lived.
“It was a source of frustration on our end,” explains Lori Lohman, secretary to the superintendent. “It wasn’t user-friendly for parents, it was super complicated to use, and the support lacked… I was often left without answers.”
Hamilton Community Schools had already committed to FinalForms to manage its athletic program. After a year of success with the athletic department, Jerry Haggerty — a former AD and FinalForms consultant — reached out to tell Hamilton’s central office about FinalForms’ student management solution.
“The athletic secretaries sang the praises of FinalForms,” Lohman continues. “We saw how well it was working for athletics, so we cut our ties with the old platform and made the switch to FinalForms for K12 enrollment.”
Plus, from Lohman’s point of view, Jerry did a great job selling the upgrade.
“Jerry wasn’t exactly a computer guy; he was a former AD,” Lohman says. Speaking to the platform’s user-friendly design, he said, “‘You know me. If I can work it, anyone can.’ It was pretty convincing, and pretty hilarious, too.”
Hamilton’s decision to expand their investment in FinalForms has already delivered impressive returns. Here are some of the benefits that the district found by adding FinalForms’ K12 enrollment services.
1. A faster enrollment process
First and foremost, FinalForms delivered efficiency to Hamilton’s entire enrollment process.
“We used to send kids home at the end of the school year with a card, asking them to bring it back in the fall,” Lohman says. “It was super time-consuming — and as you can guess, the kids were not always reliable postmen.”
Thanks to FinalForms, the enrollment process is much faster and much smoother.
“Parents do it from their phone in minutes,” Lohman says.
2. Immediate productivity
A key reason why the staff and parents quickly bought into FinalForms is the ease of use.
“It’s so simple,” Lohman says. “There’s nothing complicated about it — whether you’re managing enrollment or sports teams.”
When the district announced FinalForms to the community, Lohman was certain they’d get pushback from parents. To her surprise, that wasn’t the case at all.
“I didn’t have any complaints from parents,” Lohman said. “Once the families understood that this was replacing paper forms and how FinalForms eliminated repetition and duplication, they love it.”
3. A seamless transition for new students
When new students arrive in the district, their parents or guardians can enroll their child using a mobile device, then the staff can verify information and complete the enrollment process within minutes.
“Parents put all of the information in FinalForms, then a couple of us act as gatekeepers to review it and make sure they meet district requirements,” Lohman explains. “Once we verify the information in FinalForms, we put it into PowerSchool.”
4. Keeping contact information up to date
At the same time, FinalForms makes it easy for parents to make sure their student records remain current. For example, when a student moves somewhere else in town, parents can login and submit an address change for review.
The old way of doing things included calls, papers, reading messy handwriting, and data entry — needless to say, it was a time-consuming and error-prone process.
“It helps us keep demographic and medical information up to date,” Lohman says.
5. Best-in-class support
Of course, when it comes to any piece of technology, there will always come a time when you need an answer. In Lohman’s experience, FinalForms offers unrivaled support, particularly compared to the previous provider they’d been using.
“It’s as simple as emailing support. Someone gets back to me within an hour telling me they’re on it,” she says. “Usually, the change is made within a day. We’ve never been left hanging.”
Lohman also enjoys the fact that FinalForms is not only receptive to feedback, the company also implements it.
“We wanted the ability to see more information on the home page, and they made the update,” Lohman continues.
What’s next for Hamilton Community Schools
Looking ahead, Lohman says she believes the district will explore expanding their FinalForms footprint by adding on staff form and certification management.
When asked whether she’d recommend FinalForms to other districts, Lohman said she already has.
“It seems like I talk to another district every week about switching to FinalForms,” Lohman concludes.
For more information on how your district can transform the enrollment process and streamline central office operations, schedule a demo of FinalForms today.