Saint Agnes School and Arlington Catholic High School have a rich and storied history out of Arlington, Massachusetts. The lower/middle school (Saint Agnes) was established in 1888, while the high school (Arlington Catholic) was founded in 1960. Saint Agnes Parish has a community outreach center adjacent to the schools. Several years ago, the Archdiocese of Boston began hosting community meetings in the parish to discuss what a combined school could look like. What would it mean for the community? How could they better align their mission and curriculum? The answer was Saint Agnes School | Arlington Catholic High School: a combined campus with about 800 students spanning grades K-12.
The school is thriving under its new direction. It boasts 46 sports teams and small average class sizes at both the lower and upper schools. “We’re a one-stop shop,” said Director of Advancement Beth Flynn. “You can start your child at 4 years old at Saint Agnes School and keep them in the same program until they turn 18. It’s a powerful, amazing program to be a part of.”
The combined school campuses have led to unexpected, welcome surprises. “It’s great to see the high school students interacting with and mentoring the younger grades,” said Flynn. “We’re a real community school here. We have a parish priest that coaches cross-country, and another pastor is our hockey coach. There are people on campus from 6 a.m.-9 p.m. There’s always something going on. Community is first and you see evidence of that everywhere you go.”
After Saint Agnes School and Arlington Catholic High School merged into a single entity, they noticed several disparities in service providers across campuses. “We had a student information system (SIS) and hated it. The lower school didn’t even use an SIS,” said Flynn. “We needed a new solution.”
A team from the school met with FACTS to look at our solutions. Originally, Flynn was concerned that FACTS SIS wouldn’t meet the rigorous scheduling needs of the high school. “But, we determined the FACTS SIS scheduling was powerful enough, and we moved forward,” said Flynn. “We moved forward with almost everything!”
Saint Agnes School | Arlington Catholic High School began onboarding with FACTS SIS, but also began using FACTS’ financial services as well, including Tuition Management, Incidental Billing, and Parent Alert. Flynn pointed out that most schools of their size and complexity would run a dual system for a year while implementing new vendors for SIS and financial solutions. But they didn’t: “We took a chance and said, ‘Let’s see what happens,’ and we had no issues. We jumped in with online application and enrollment packets. We moved immediately from a paper process to an electronic one,” she said.
The parent experience improved for families at the school as well. “I’m an employee of the school as well as a parent at the school,” said Flynn. “As a parent, I think it’s fabulous that everything you need is all in one place. Parents here love the SSO (single-sign-on) access and that everything is in one place for all their kids — attendance, grades, calendar, and billing.”
FACTS Premier Billing has helped streamline other office processes too. “The business office loves the integration between the SIS and the financial/billing side,” said Flynn. “We can create classes for the athletic teams and drama productions, and it’s so easy to go in and assess all the respective fees. The process is game-changing.”
We asked Flynn if parents appreciate the new payment experience and she laughed. “One time I actually didn’t pay my own tuition on time just to see what it looked like from the parent’s perspective. I got the emails and I got the late notices, and it’s so great that FACTS handles that process. It takes two seconds to pay as a parent. You click three buttons and you’ve paid.”
“We’ve been really pleased with how everything has gone so far,” said Flynn. “The customer service is excellent. Everyone that we have dealt with at FACTS — from implementation on — has been fabulous. Everyone called us right away, held our hands, and walked us through the baby steps. I cannot say enough good things about the people we have dealt with.”
As for Flynn herself, her job is much easier than it was just a few months ago: “The reporting and everything I do is very user-friendly. With our previous vendor, we had to be on campus or in the system if we were remote. Now I can do everything from my phone or at home.”Download PDF