Low school forms completion rate leaves district in funding quagmire

Automating the collection of student data by using online school forms improves the accuracy and consistency of cohort information, as discussed in our post Data accuracy a top 2018 education challenge.

But, it’s not just important from a liability and duty-of-care perspective relating to medical records, emergency action plans and consent (see our article Why informed consent matters).  It can also directly impact the bottom line.

School lunch funding shortfall

In a recent interview, Superintendent of Schools, Colleen Jermain, reported steadily declining form completion rates from families whose children are eligible to receive federal funds as students of the Newport School District in the US.  And, this trend is causing a budget shortfall that the district cannot cover.

School funding form collection

Over the 2016 – 2017 school year, the district anticipated obtaining around $522,000 in Medicaid funding from the Federal Government, but instead received just $113,000.  Jermain attributed the large unanticipated gap to families not returning forms that schools could then submit to receive federal funds.

Large assistance programs reliant on the manual collection of paper forms include Medicaid, Federal Impact Aid and the National School Lunch Program.  In circumstances where families don’t return forms, funding for such programs falls to the school district – an unsustainable situation, reported Jermain.

For example, because such a large number of students have not returned funding forms for the lunch program, the district is now incurring more than $20,000 in unpaid lunch bills.


Manual paper-based processes cause bottleneck

School committee member, Becky Bolan, confirmed to newportthisweek that, while the convoluted two-step submission process was critical for ensuring schools had the funds required to meet students’ needs, the same information had to be manually collected via paper-based forms every year.

Paper forms bottleneck

“For all three of these issues, Medicaid, Federal Impact Aid and the lunch program, when there’s less revenue coming in, you try and work to collect more forms and say a prayer that revenue in other areas comes in or is higher than expected to offset the decrease in other areas,” said Bolan. “I don’t think it was on anyone’s radar until recently, but now we’ve got to make changes so that this doesn’t happen again.”

Unfortunately, the answer to this problem as it currently stands is more manual effort, according to Jermain.


Manual paper-based processes touted as solution…

Jermain said the administration and staff across all three schools impacted by the shortfall in the Newport School District are encouraging families to return the forms – by literally “pounding the pavement”.Pounding-the-Pavement

“We’re trying to educate our families so they understand the importance of these forms,” said Jermain. “Whether that means house calls, phone calls or trying to catch parents at pick-up or drop-off [areas], we’re pounding the pavement trying to get these forms and applications back.  We’re hoping that our families will help us out with this.”


Case study: 74 percent of parents sign within 12 hours

At CareMonkey, we understand that schools spend too much time and energy manually distributing, collecting and submitting incomplete student information via paper-based forms.

Hear how Susan Allen, the Principal of Randwick Public School in NSW Australia, now receives three quarters of completed forms from parents within 12 hours of sending them out via CareMonkey’s online platform for school eforms, medical records and more.

“Randwick Public School is a very big school, and we needed a way to effectively manage all the data surrounding our student health and operational needs throughout the school,” said Allen.  “Collecting paper notes had become a huge task for my teachers.  With so many students, there were various slips. But since we’ve had CareMonkey, we have been able to manage these tasks seamlessly.

“Our parents are quite busy, and they really appreciate being able to sign electronically for excursion notes.  We’re finding that 74 percent of our parents actually sign within 12 hours.”


Where to next?

Keen to know more? Simply:

  • Find out more about CareMonkey’s online school forms HERE >
  • Discover why more schools are going paperless with CareMonkey HERE >
  • Sign-up for a complimentary and obligation-free 30-day trial HERE >