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Posted: Wednesday, January 13, 2021 13:10

Decorah’s superintendent Mark Lane often quotes a poster hanging in his mentor’s office: “What problem is this the solution for?” He admits that sometimes he has great ideas, but he has nowhere to put them. But when it came to the outdated service system for the DCSD team, Lane was equipped with the solution, thanks to his years of working in another school district, before he even knew about the problem in the district.

After Lane was hired in the spring of 2019, he frequently heard problems with the employee attendance system at the time. At that time, the system overloaded management and staff with a lot of complicated paperwork and had significant delays for updated information.

Lane explained: “Imagine being a director and doing rounds at school. You go into a classroom to say hi and, to your surprise, there is a replacement. This is certainly not an ideal situation.”

The problem was quite clear, so Lane and a team of administrators began to examine the system that Lane had used in his previous district. The Decorah School Council received a new program in December 2019, which was approved for implementation. The district then started using Frontline Education’s absence management software in July 2020.

decorahnews.com recently chatted with Lane to find out how the new system is working for DCSD. Lane was impressed with the elimination of the necessary paperwork, reduced delay time and convenience for everyone using the system.

The new system is completely online, easily accessible and has practically eliminated stacks and stacks of paperwork that were previously necessary for an employee’s absence. The Decorah team can now fill a request with the date, reason and time of absence quickly and easily with the convenience of your device. Then, the appropriate supervisors can approve or deny the request. No paperwork needs to be sent and sent, which is positive for the environment and facilitates the whole process.

A notable benefit is that there is no longer a gap for missing information. Directors and management can log in at any time to check who is requesting days off. The information is updated instantly, so there are no unexpected surprises, as mentioned earlier. Frontline Education even offers an app for smart devices, if the user decides to use it.

The new software is also convenient for employees. Staff can sign up and request days off whenever they need to, whether it’s waking up sick in the middle of the night or if there’s a future personal day planned for things like a wedding. The district, however, still requires its employees to call in case of absence, if the 6:00 am online application deadline for that day has passed.

In addition, if a team member is curious about how many days they still have to use, an updated number is noted on each person’s account. This replaces the old method of calling the main office and asking Darlene Woodhouse for this number. According to Lane, many of the employees felt that a call like this was a burden on Woodhouse’s already busy schedule.

The new software is proving beneficial now, and Lane is eager to use the “absence fill rate” to make informed decisions in the future. He explains: “I can look at the absence fill rate, which indicates how we are doing with filling out subs. Hypothetically, let’s say our rate is 90%. That may sound great, but then I talk to nearby districts that a 98% rating. This will start the conversation about what they may be doing differently to get a higher rating. “These types of conversations will lead to vital decisions, such as underpayment.

Currently, only the Decorah team is prepared to use the new system. Lane says they are working on implementing the system for use by hourly district employees in the next six to eight months.

Lane said: “With everything else that was more difficult to do in the past school year, I am grateful for such a simplified staff service system. I am grateful that we have found an answer to this problem.”

Paula Fonseca