News

AZ District Successfully Makes Changes Affecting Nearly 50% of Students

By Abi Mandelbaum
September 9th, 2014

Sunnyside Unified School District realigns boundaries, closes two buildings and moves sixth grade back to elementary using GuideK12™

(Eagan, MN) After a recent override election for funding was not passed; Sunnyside Unified School District (SUSD or Sunnyside) officials faced a difficult decision last school year. Enrollments were steady, but due to required budget cuts and a decision to make long-awaited configuration changes to the elementary schools by adding back sixth grades, administrators determined that they were going to close one elementary campus and one middle school campus, realign boundaries and change feeder patterns. These changes could have been extremely disruptive, affecting more than 10,000 students in some manner and directly reassigning more than 2,700.

Determined to make the transition go as smoothly as possible, administrators chose the geovisual analytics software from GuideK12™ to strategically analyze and compare all of the potential change scenarios. The software provided the data that allowed SUSD to be transparent and strategic throughout the process, painting a clear picture of the affects of any potential change. GuideK12 proved to be a helpful tool in effectively communicating the logistics and overall plan to all stakeholders, both internal and within the community, leading to very little community opposition.

GuideK12™ is a web-based platform that assists school and district leaders in solving critical educational challenges by visualizing data on an interactive map. Having the ability to link student information with household information, a district can save time and money while increasing transparency for everything from boundary planning, to resource placement and to student performance analysis. School district administrators can run “what if” scenarios with real-time data that is more efficient, and accurate.

“GuideK12™ was an instrumental part of getting all stakeholders on board throughout what could have been an incredibly difficult process,” said Mary Veres, the director of public information for SUSD. “The innovative platform gave us the ability to show real-time maps of the potential scenarios within our district to increase all stakeholders’ understanding, help answer questions and gain their support by effectively translating data.”

“We knew the changes were going to be disruptive. We always keep families’ and students’ needs front and center during the process of making these kinds of decisions,” said Pam Betten, Sunnyside’s executive director of 1:1 and director of middle schools. “We did a significant amount of research and scenario planning to find the best solution for all involved. One particular point of focus was on communicating why we were making the changes, the benefits of said changes, the logic and strategy behind them and exactly what the plans were to all affected parties: students, parents, faculty, administrators, transportation officials and even members of the school board.”

Among the few things communicated about these changes clearly up front, was the reassurance to the parents that class size would not be increased, and promising the teachers that they would still have a job within the district’s other schools.

“We learned a lot through the process and felt it went extremely well overall, especially now that school is underway without a hitch,” said Betten. “We attribute much of the success to the strategic planning at the district office, the priority we put on transparency, the choice to use GuideK12™ and putting the best interest of our students and their families first. These are not easy changes for any district to go through, but Sunnyside has emerged stronger.”

Serving more than 18,000 students just outside of Tucson, Arizona, Sunnyside began discussions about these changes in January and used GuideK12™ to quickly move through the processes and effectively communicate to every student and family by mid-May.

For more information about Sunnyside USD, visit them online at: www.susd12.org

To learn more about GuideK12™ and Geovisual analytics for education, go to www.GuideK12.com or to schedule a demonstration contact Julie@Guidek12.com

About GuideK12™:
Based in MN, GuideK12LLC is a geovisual analytics software company. By visualizing information spatially, decisions on everything from boundary analysis, to policy changes to resource planning and forecasting enrollments can be faster and more effective. GuideK12™ has been the proud recipient of many industry leading awards: Selected as a 2013 finalist for SIIA’s education CODiE awards for Best K-12 Enterprise solution; NSBA Innovative Showcase Company ( 1 of 6); EdTech Digest “Cool Tool”

Winner for Best District Data Solution; and one of the Top Products of 2012 by DA Magazine. GuideK12™ serves large metro, suburban and rural school districts throughout the United Sates. It is owned by private investors and a private investment group based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. For more about GuideK12™, please visit: www.guidek12.com

Press contact:
Jacob Hanson
PR with Panache!
Jacob@prwithpanache.com

About the Author:

Abi Mandelbaum

Abi Mandelbaum is CEO of YouVisit.