The Grand Prairie Independent School District (GPISD) is the largest employer in Grand Prairie, TX, with approximately 3,063 employees, 25,500 students and 38 campuses, including 25 elementary schools, seven middle schools, two ninth-grade centers, two high schools and two alternative education schools. For over 25 years the organization relied on an AS400 Main Frame solution running a combination of DB2 and DB3 databases to manage both its business operations and student management processes. Two years ago the organization realized it needed to update its systems in order to run a more efficient business and, more importantly, better serve the needs of its students.
Because all of GPISD’s processing was done in batches employees were unable to access real-time data that was critical to helping the business move forward. Lyle DuBus, Executive Director of Instructional Delivery for GPISD explains: “I would get budget reports that were 60-90 days old, so we developed our own Access database product so I see real-time financial information. Essentially we had to work around the system rather than having it work for us.”
Without easy access to information, many processes were tedious and time-consuming, and most had to be performed manually. For example, to prepare for a third-party audit which was required by law, the business office would close down for 60-90 days to get ready because there was such a lag time associated with its systems and most of the information had to be obtained manually.
GPISD’s IT department spent a tremendous amount of time and effort just trying to keep the system up-to-date. “It lacked the flexibility we needed to serve the needs of our employees and students,” says DuBus. For example, in order to process data they had to close down the system every night around 10:00 pm. So anyone working late was unable to access the information they may need to do their jobs.
“It became painfully clear that our current system could no longer accommodate our needs,” says DuBus. “We required a modern, sophisticated technology that could provide us with 24/7 access to real-time information, the ability to integrate with our existing and future systems in order to streamline our processes, visibility across our entire organization, and the flexibility to meet our growing and changing needs.”