What poliSCHOOL does NOT Do
poliSCHOOL does NOT:
- Automatically package federal financial aid, import or sync with COD. It tracks half-way marks, invoices tuition and fees, processes credit card and bank transfers, and we work with federally accredited and FAFSA schools, but the process is not automatic; you’ll still need a human being filing.
- Link with Quickbooks or any other third-party accounting software. It has plenty of CSV exports you can use for importing, but pS on its own handles all the student accounts, so the recommendation is to just book your income weekly / monthly in your other accounting software.
- Function as a shift scheduler for student externships. Classroom and staff schedulers that create calendars, yes, but time has proven it is not ideal for any schools that need employee-like shift scheduling for students to complete externships or individual lab hours. Some schools (mostly CNA / CMA) use the booking system to schedule their own externship slots, but there is no guarantee that it will perfectly fit how your school might operate insofar as how you manage scheduling, shift duration, and various scheduling rules you might enforce.
- Does not work “smoothly” for schools like massage or fitness-related schools that offer a boatload of short courses all the time with multiple schedules. It will do the work, but the interface is designed to be list-based, so if you have 200 different class schedules, managing all those course codes and lists can become a bit unruly (imaging the size of a dropdown list with 200 courses in it: yes, it works, but it’s not any fun).
- Integrate with and LMS other than LearnDash. Working exclusively with LearnDash allows us to focus development, and since LearnDash works in a WordPress environment, makes it easy for both schools to use, and poliARC to manage without having to have schools go through a separate developers API with a third party company. Our goal is for schools to be fully autonomous and never rely on an account managed or owned by by poliARC.
- Does not clock staff in and out. There is a comprehensive staff scheduler that generates calendars and time cards to print and be signed off by a supervisor, but since “life happens” that schedule does not generate a tally that can be safely used for payroll. There is also a staff logger that shows virtually all the actions each staff member makes in the system, including and time logged in for a day based on log in and out times, but the staff logger also does NOT generate hours intended for use in payroll. (For example: we’ve found that the vast majority of staff users have the rather bad habit of quitting their browser rather than logging out and then quitting. If they don’t log out and just quit, it’s not possible for a web-based system to log that; especially if the school has a very long value as their session timeout.)
Will poliSCHOOL work for my school?
If you are a vocational, trade, or career school operating under standard state and federal regulations, then yes, there’s a very good chance. It’s important to note, too, that poliARC believes that in order to maintain good operational practices, what software does not do is just as important as what it does. pS works great for most vocational schools, but it’s possible that it’s workflow is different than how you wish to operate. Request free access to a demo site, look around and test it, then when you’re ready we can talk more in depth about the functions and services poliSCHOOL clients receive.
Can I change service plans?
Yes. All service plans are monthly, so clients can upgrade or downgrade at the end of any billing cycle.
What are the system requirements?
What’s recommended is that you invest in your school’s network infrastructure: robust, pro-level network hardware and an above-average connection to the Internet. Why? Imagine you have 60 students all taking an online multiple-choice test at the same time… with that many people all on one network, you want to make sure your connection and network are fast enough so your students can all download the images and load the questions.
Does it work on mobile devices?
Yes, for most functions. pS uses unique mobile modules that allow users to instantly swap between mobilized and full version layouts.
Is this for online schools / distance learning?
Sort of. poliSCHOOL + LearnDash package gives you “the best of all worlds”. poliSCHOOL manages admissions and student data, then it connects to LearnDash to create users, grade / revoke access to online courses, copy grades and attendance based on lesson completion and quizzes. The poliSCHOOL + LearnDash service packages includes the additional license fees for the LMS, design and hosting of your online courses, and hosting your online course content using the CloudFront CDN for fast connection and downloads. Note: it does *not* include creating course content, but poliARC has a lot of experience with Adobe Captivate and production videos, so if you would like help on that front, let us know and we can talk about contracting that work seperately.
What sort of school documents does pS create?
Official transcripts, 1098-T (student copy), account statements, attendance sheets, invoices, refund statements, attendance reports, grades reports, grade books, deposits, payment reports, enrollment lists, and account ledgers. Using the Docs & Email module schools also create their own auto-fill templates that can be downloaded as PDF, or sent as HTML emails (Template examples: enrollment agreements, student notices, externship sheets, admissions docs, etc.). poliSCHOOL also has over 100 Dynamic Content Codes with which you can create any number of custom .xlsx export files.
How does student tuition and fees invoicing work?
poliSCHOOL supports custom payment plans for tuition, materials, and admin fees that can be due at any interval and amount you need. You can also have pS automatically create invoices and have student pay them during the application process. pS creates all invoices for their payment plan so you can have projected revenue in your reports, and so the system can send automatic reminders to students, as well as optional automatic late fees. You can also create individual invoices for students whenever needed. Students are able to view their entire payment plan, print invoices and receipts, and pay their invoices with a credit card or ACH transfer – manually or with auto-pay – (using your Stripe merchant account).
What refund basis does poliSCHOOL use?
You can choose between two refund calculation types: Pro Rata, or Percentage of Course Completion (PCC). Pro Rata calculates based on to-date hours offered. PCC calculates tuition refunds based on “stages” of course completion (i.e. if the student completes 5-10% of the course, 10% of tuition is due; if 11-20% of the hours are completed, 20% of tuition is due, etc.). For PPC, you can enter as many “stages” as you need. The system uses the master course settings (total hours in course, hours per day) coupled with student attendance records to automatically calculate refunds.
Does the payments module handle other financial transactions?
The financial section of poliSCHOOL covers only student-related AP and AR: tuition, materials, admin fees, refunds, overpayments, unearned tuition. It does not include other accounting categories that you might use with other software (rent, utilities, payroll, etc.). The reports section, however, calculates all the student-related categories so you can easily enter them as single-line entries into any other software you use for accounting purposes.
Are there different user levels?
Yes. For the CRM and School Operations modules, levels include: admin, campus manager, program coordinator, recruiter, representative, teacher, accountant, and student. Each level is granted access only to the sections they need, and there are options to assign additional sections to specific users on the staff side (i.e. allow a teacher to also be able to schedule other staff members on the Staff Scheduler).
Additionally, if you are use the Multi-campus option, it automatically excludes any records that are not for the campuses to which the user is assigned. Students are given access only to the student portal where they can view their own grades, attendance, take tests, book resources, download study guides, etc.
Is it secure?
All pS installations are accessed with https connections and have totally separate databases and cPanel accounts (no other system offers that much seperation) Sensitive data is encrypted using unique, rotating keys, and e-docs can only be access while logged into the system using time-sensitive signed URLs. Back-ups of your database are done daily, and every week a full back-up (database and all attached documents) is compiled and stored securely offline. There are adjustable auto-logout timers, multiple user levels, and session tokens. Of course, clients must exercise their own precautions to protect user user names and passwords.
When I sign up, what's the most important thing I need to start using poliSCHOOL?
After poliARC takes care of the installation and hardware, we need to build your programs “inside the box”: education program structure, courses, start dates, and master grade book for each program you offer. This is all part of the set up process and fee. poliARC can get a lot of this information from your school’s school’s catalog and syllabi (program hours, course schedules, grade weights, assignments, etc.), but it’s important that you are available for Skype video or screen share calls so that everything is entered correctly. If you do not yet have all the information, then as part of the set up process, Paul Hughes will work with you to fill in any blanks. poliSCHOOL uses the program structure to create attendance sheets, transcripts, grade entry forms, etc. Depending on the type and status of each program, this can take anywhere from a couple days to couple weeks to complete.
Does it support more than one campus?
Yes. You can run poliSCHOOL for a single or multiple campuses on one installation without additional charge. Staff members who are granted access to more than one campus are given additional filtering options to narrow searches and reports. While users can access all campus information in one place, each location requires its own unique set of courses, classes, graded items, etc. This is mandatory for proper record keeping and accounts. Also keep in mind that the more people you have using the system, the more load it puts on the server, so adding campuses may or may not require upgrading hosting.
What types of courses does poliSCHOOL support?
poliSCHOOL’s is best suited for Lockstep programs (a group of students start as a group, then progress through the course as a group), and Open Enrollment programs (where students enroll in a course, but then pick which classes they take and when). You can have both types of courses in the system at the same time. Some schools operate differently and use slightly different definitions of lockstep vs. open enrollment, so please contact poliARC to see if your program structure is compatible with the attendance and enrollment procedures used in poliSCHOOL.
How do online tests for students work?
You can schedule tests for an entire class or individual student. If they already have a grade in the system for a test, the system will not allow them to take the test. You set the number of questions and time allotted. Once students submit, it automatically enters the grade and updates their transcript. Questions are offered to each student in random order, and students can choose to save questions for later. Teachers can upload JPG or PDF files as attachments for each question, and questions can be assigned to up to three different tests (i.e. regular test, midterm, final).
What are attendance options?
Attendance books are based on program and course structure, so every program can have different style attendance sheets. You can credit just class hours on attendance sheets, or activate options to split the hours between class and lab hours. There’s also an option to allow overriding the default number of hours offered / credited each day.
Individual lab hours (projects, self-study, externships) are entered separately for each student rather than on a full-class attendance sheet. The attendance books are based on week number of the curriculum, and you can have as many as 9 make-up attendance sheets for each week.
poliSCHOOL also has the Sign In module (no extra charge) that allows students to sign in and out using any device on your school’s wireless network.
Does poliSCHOOL create student alerts/notices?
Yes. Tasks create login and email alerts. Staff can create “Alert Tasks” for students and leads to remind them about anything (due dates, meetings, etc.), which include email and SMS alerts. Staff are also sent weekly emails that detail upcoming schedule and tasks. Students receive email notices of upcoming payments, alerts of overdue payments, and absences warnings. Student records are flagged if they are missing any enrollment or graduation requirements, and the Attendance and Grades overviews also flag students who are under, or getting close to falling below passing.
Schools can also customize their alerts by using the comprehensive Forms & Agreements module so that you can trigger required checklists based on every possible student status in the system.
Once I Sign Up, How Does It Work?
poliARC will purchase, set up, and manage a new domain on which to install your system. We set up the database, install the files, create the initial users and system settings, then work with you to set up the rest to fit your school (grade book, courses, transcripts, application, etc.). Your staff and students access the main system on your new domain, which is used exclusively for this purpose to help ensure it’s as fast as possible; not bogged down by other Internet traffic.
Using simple iframe code, your inquiry and event registration forms can be installed on any web page on any domain. poliARC provides the monthly maintenance, manages the database, stores back-ups, provides ongoing support for your users, and automatically installs any updates. Every client has a unique domain name, hosting account, and independent system files so that we have the ability to customize it specifically to your needs.
Why is the cost low / fixed?
A lot of online software services bill based on the number of students and/or users. This is nice when you’re new and the school is small, but the prices get quite high as you enroll more students and hire more staff. poliSCHOOL is a fixed priced to avoid any such surprises. We also can maintain a low monthly fee for poliSCHOOL because it isn’t the only service that poliARC offers. Generally, (but not required to use poliSCHOOL), it is just one part of a more comprehensive service and support agreement that includes online marketing, graphic design, etc.
What can I customized?
The system settings lets you customize a lot (branding, contact, open / close hours, auto-reply emails, search features… it’s a long list, really). Autonomous systems have more leeway since they have a dedicated system installation. I you would like support to be on-call to create custom exports and designs for you, then you can add the “pS Custom” add-on to your monthly service.