The Midland Independent School District (MISD) consists of 25,000+ students from 40 schools including traditional neighborhood schools and choice options such as magnets and charters. Even with this many options, there was no single location for families to access information about all of the schools to be able to make an informed decision about where to send their child. Additionally, there was no centralized location to apply to a school outside of your zoned neighborhood. This would force families to submit multiple applications, each with their own process and timeline. To make the process more accessible and equitable, MISD launched Apply Midland, which applies a common set of policies, as well as a centralized online school finder and common application.
Since 2011, Acumen Solutions has worked with districts across the country to create online tools to address similar problems MISD was facing. The result is a suite of enrollment management tools, including a school finder and a common application, all built with enterprise scale. The school finder is a public facing website designed to guide families through the process of finding the best school for their student; this tool leverages Amazon S3 for storing website content. The application is an authenticated website that allows families to submit applications to the school(s) of their choice, as well as view and manage enrollment offers from the schools. Additionally, the application calculates a student’s neighborhood school using Lambda functions, alongside API Gateway and EC2.
Return on Investment:
The alternative to Acumen’s proposed solution was for the district to host a geo-spatial tool using their own server and upgrade licensing for GIS software; this would have been substantially more expensive than the solution hosted on AWS. The school finder solution was launched in December 2019 and the common application solution in January 2020. The first application cycle has not yet closed, but it is expected to centralize the process for over 5,000 applications in the first year alone. As the Apply Midland initiative expands in scope in the coming year, this number will similarly grow.