Bundooraville is a small, private school in Victoria, Australia. For the past 10 years, it has offered a curriculum for preschool through grade 3. It also offers after-school care, usually referred to as after-care, on premises. Last year the school added a new classroom to allow the curriculum to expand to provide a grade 4-6 program. Bundooraville is experiencing significant increases in enrolment applications for all programs from pre-school through the Grade 4-6 program. Increases in applications coupled with the expanded program and increased demand for after-care have led to a very high workload for the administrative staff. Bundooraville is a nonprofit, and is not in a position to hire another full-time administrative position, which is what the principal and administrator think would be needed to handle the increased workload. You are an IT consultant, specialising in developing IT solutions for small business needs. You have been contacted by the parent of one of the students to speak to the school principal, administrator and teaching staff about the possibility of setting up an information system to handle some of the school’s administrative and financial tasks. While there is not money in the budget to add a full-time position, the school does have a very active board of directors and parent committees that are experienced and enthusiastic about fund-raising for projects that do not fit into the budget. It is the hope of the school that it might be feasible to use a combination of grants and fund-raising to cover the initial cost of purchasing and setting up and information system, and the ongoing cost of a part-time support position for the system. After an initial conversation between yourself and the school staff, you summarise the organisational and functional information (see Appendix 1).
After talking to you, the staff has decided that pursuing the possibility of an information system is a good idea. The system that the school has been using, of spreadsheets and word processing documents worked well when enrolments were smaller, but now the amount of time spent copying information from one place to another is daunting, and the possibility of errors is increasing. The staff members are initially interested in a system that could track tuition and after-care invoicing and payments. While there are other administrative tasks that could easily be added, right now these are what they believe to be the priorities.
What information will you need to begin the preliminary investigation? Which techniques will you use to gather this information [10 Marks].
Appendix 1 - Organisational and Functional Information Kathy Gilliard is the principal of Bundooraville. She handles the academic and curricular issues that arise, and ensures that the school meets all educational standards. She also deals with issues related to the school’s non-profit status. Kathy and the teachers who report to her make decisions jointly about admissions and assignments to classrooms. Kathy handles payroll for teachers and teacher aides. Kathy also substitutes in any of the school classrooms when a teacher is out. Susan Brown is the vice-principal. She has traditionally handled or been responsible for all administrative tasks related to tuition and after-care fees. Susan sends out monthly invoices for tuition and after-care, records payments and handles bank deposits. Susan handles all requests for drop-in care in consultation with the after-care teachers, and adjusts monthly invoices accordingly. She maintains all student records, and ensures that contact and pick-up lists for all classrooms and after-care programs are up-to-date. She also handles payroll for the after-care teachers and part-time assistants in the after-care programs. Currently Susan handles all her responsibilities using Microsoft Word and Excel. She is comfortable with the applications, but finds that maintaining records and producing reports, payroll, etc results in a lot of duplication of effort, as she has to copy a lot of information from one worksheet or document to another. There are six full-time teachers at Bundooraville and five teachers aides. Teachers aides report to their respective teachers. Each teacher is responsible for keeping attendance records and recording them in the student files. There are two full-time after-care teachers, one for the pre-school and kindergarten group, and one for the primary grades. After-care teachers report to Susan Brown. Each after-care teacher has part-time assistants assigned to the program. Assistants report to the after-care teacher. The after-care teachers are responsible for keeping time sheets for their part-time assistants and submitting them every two weeks to Susan Brown. In addition, the after-care teachers are responsible for submitting weekly summary sheets to Susan Brown detailing any hours above those pre-registered for that students spent in the after-care program, so that parents are invoiced for the additional time. Like many other non-profit schools, Bundooraville relies on volunteer time from parents to accomplish many of the tasks essential to the running of the school. A financial committee examines monthly financial reports, a fund-raising committee evaluates possible fund-raising projects and handles approved fund-raising. In addition, individual parents step in as needed to do rote office tasks, after care assistants when needed, and qualified parents step into the classroom as teachers aides whenever possible to reduce the reliance on substitute teachers.