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Case Study

Canton City School District

Canton City School District Hero Image

District Background

Part of a strategic alliance known as the Ohio 8 Coalition, Canton City Schools is one of eight urban districts in Ohio. Heather Heater, Director of Technology, will tell you it’s the best school district around. Home to a diverse group of 8,000 students, a sense of pride and resilience bonds the school community.

The Challenge

When the district implemented a one-to-one model, every student received an iPad. A variety of other devices were already in use at various sites. With 14,000+ devices to keep track of for students and staff across the district, an updated tracking system was a must.

The old inventory system was antiquated and didn’t work well for all the different devices from the district level to individual sites. Heather’s team needed a way to track all electronic devices, especially mobile ones, quickly locate them, and document repairs. They also needed to link to the finance system to track funding sources and purchasing. There was way too much data to process by hand using spreadsheets.

The Solution

School districts frequently rely on inventory control systems that include handwritten lists of barcodes, printed spreadsheets with barcodes and serial numbers, and — too often — no purchase order numbers. Think about the challenges districts all over the country faced at the beginning of the pandemic when they had to quickly check out devices for students to take home.

Fortunately, Canton had recently implemented Frontline’s Asset Management and Help Desk Management — just in time for a test of their device tracking capabilities that previously would have been unimaginable.

“If you want the latest and greatest tools, you really need to have a good inventory management system.”

Heather Heater
– Director of Technology

The Results

With so many devices checked out to students and staff, Help Desk paired with Asset Management has proven to be invaluable to Canton City Schools. Every computer and iPad is linked to a staff member or student. A simple report can locate inventory assigned to any site in the district.

If a student or staff member has a problem with a device, they know how to get help. As soon as anyone submits a help ticket, a pop-up response automatically links the device to the user. Prompts and simple drop-down menus guide the user through the system.

The synchronized systems allow the technology department staff to locate any device, identify who has it, see what issue the user is experiencing with the unit, and route it to the building’s technician.

Organized chaos

“The inventory piece for mobile devices is great because students can check in and check out their devices. You can have them sign in digitally, which is huge for us.”

Heather Heater
– Director of Technology

Without Frontline’s Asset Management and Help Desk Management systems, it would have been almost impossible for the district to assign devices, track each one, and get them out as quickly and efficiently as they did at the beginning of the pandemic. They might have had plenty of iPads for students, but without a way to track that workflow for devices assigned to every student, it would have been chaotic. Electronic tracking showed who each unit was assigned to and where they were, even if families were temporarily stuck living out of state during COVID lockdowns.

Having an electronic system even provided workarounds for physical limitations during school closures. To limit face-to-face contact, parents drove their students to a designated school site to pick up a device. A staff member handed over an iPad for the student to sign in the car, then wiped it down for the next person.

To deal with issues that came up with any electronic device, the district customized the help desk process by creating a “student” button that allowed students or their parents to request support. A digital record of those conversations provided history and even helped develop best practices that were later used to train new employees.

Not only was equipment tracked, so was the funding source. Even if a device was purchased with federal COVID relief funds, audits were simple. A couple of clicks identified which student had it, which school site they attended, and even their homeroom number.

Efficiency, accuracy, and reliability

“Our kids’ world is embedded in technology. That’s all they know. This system is just so much more efficient.”

Heather Heater
– Director of Technology

How do asset and help desk management programs impact student learning?

The simple answer is efficiency. Devices are tools for learning. Teachers rely on access to digital information to deliver instruction, and students need to have those devices in their hands.

Without an efficient way to assign devices to students, keep track of them if they’re damaged, and make sure there are enough spares in a building, the district wouldn’t be able to rely on always having devices available for student learning.

How can the tech department know who has what?

Reports show all the data. When an administrator wonders if they have enough devices on site, Frontline pulls numbers directly from the student information system.

Heather’s team can create a list of students by grade level, run a report on what model each student has, and quickly use the data to put together a presentation showing precisely what inventory is available for students on each campus.

What if the numbers don’t match?

Since the device data is tied to individual students, red flags can pop up. If a high school appears to have 1,000 devices but only 800 students, a quick look will show that 200 graduating students haven’t turned in their devices yet. Problem solved: missing devices are not actually missing!

So many ways to grow!

Pleased with the flexibility and capabilities of the inventory system, Canton City set up the program to meet their specific needs. Heather’s team can sort data by site, by student, or by staff members. They use it to manage purchase orders and asset tagging. Donated items like hot spots and mobile devices are easily included in the system even if no asset tag is used. Any device can be checked in or out, assigned or unassigned, or marked for repair. Students are linked to their devices electronically, eliminating the need to physically hand out equipment or keep files of paper documents.

In Heather’s opinion, the system is so robust, it is just the beginning. “Every day, we’re modifying, we’re changing it.” She plans to work with the maintenance department to start using the ticketing system for maintenance calls. Whether it’s technology, maintenance, or something else, the district is streamlining how they track equipment, maintenance, and repair tasks.

“Once you know how to get the data coming in, you can use that to find ways to get better and more efficient.”

Heather Heater
– Director of Technology