Heights Christian Schools, a network of nine campuses in Southern California, boasts one junior high, one intermediate program, three elementary schools, five preschools, and two infant centers. With almost 2,000 students, their needs are complex and varied. That’s why they chose RenWeb as their SIS provider in 2008 and have remained clients since.
What Did They Need?
We have various programs running concurrently throughout the entire year,” said Claud Lamar, President and CEO of HCS. “It’s a nonstop churn throughout the five preschools, and so managing the programs and billing issues that arise is a full-time job.
Why They Chose RenWeb to Help
In 2008, Heights Christian Schools got notice that their SIS at the time was being sunsetted within a year. They began searching for a new product.
“We looked at other providers and had sticker shock. $30,000 up front.”
HCS also wanted billing within their SIS so they spent some additional time investigating alternatives.
“We were pretty much sold after the first time we had a webinar demonstration,” said Lamar.
HCS was pleased with RenWeb’s affordability and robust feature set, especially the billing portion.
“We knew we wouldn’t find anything better.”
Implementation is always the most difficult part of an SIS transition, so Lamar brought HCS on board with RenWeb for six months before the summer to allow ample time for faculty and staff training.
“As we’ve continued to grow HCS, we see that RenWeb’s implementation process has only gotten easier and easier since 2008,” said Lamar. He managed the RenWeb implementation and school onboarding process for the last three schools almost entirely from his office rather than on-site at the schools. “It’s such an easy transition.”
Schools understand the value of turn-key implementation when compared to the alternative. When asked if RenWeb would have still been their SIS of choice if they’d had to implement everything themselves, Lamar agrees it would have been difficult.
“It was huge that you set up everything for us in our database and we were completely ready to go for training. I have a full-time job running a school, and I needed your assistance to make this work. Implementation was a great deal, especially considered how well it was handled.”
Why They’re Staying with RenWeb
There are dozens of SIS solutions available to K-12 schools, and HCS isn’t immune from the allure of looking.
“There have been times where we wondered if we should search for a new SIS, if there was something better out there,” said Lamar. “But when we integrated the website, brought payments in-house, and looked at the customer service, we knew we couldn’t get this anywhere else. And we remembered why we chose you.”
HCS, like many private K-12 schools, is feeling the strain of reinventing themselves for a new generation of parents and students.
Lamar sees parents coming into HCS with expectations for safety/security, college preparatory curriculum, advanced programming, technology-focused classrooms, and online forms and communication.
“This is a massive cultural shift in expectations,” said Lamar. “It’s not temporary. We have to be able to be positioned to respond and provide answers to these questions. We have to maintain our relevancy as a school.”
How does a K-12 school continue to be relevant to today’s parents?
“Well, one of the things we emphasized early on was that we needed to go out of our way to build partnerships with parents. How do you do that? Being communicative about grades and finances are a part of that, but it has to go beyond a vendor-client relationship. In the end, we’re doing this to impact a child’s life.”
With HCS’ partnership with RenWeb, we provided them valuable technology and communication tools that started small—with email-based communications—and then slowly incorporated more and more participatory elements.
RenWeb changed the culture of kids from getting grades to earning grades. And, all the other features gave us a truly collaborative process with our parents.
And like HCS, RenWeb is determined to go beyond the typical vendor-client relationship too. As partners with them—and their nine campuses, 2,000 students, and thousands of parents—we believe in ongoing collaboration, communication, and listening.
Delivering on our promise that we’re in this together and working on this together to do the best we can for the students–this is the nuts and bolts that helps us succeed,” said Lamar. “It was a game-changer for us.