Case Study

How to Get Rid of 11 Filing Cabinets

How the Newton Community School District’s HR Department stopped late-night sub calling, tamed time tracking, conquered contracts, and took back time for people.

Newton Community School District Hero Image

District Background

Sandy Scotton has worked at Newton Community School District for 20 years. As one of two employees in the Human Resources department, she’s responsible for onboarding and offboarding of employees, working with all substitutes, tracking time to send to payroll, and contract renewals — along with a few thousand other tasks.

Today, things are humming along in Newton CSD’s HR department, but Sandy recalls a more chaotic time…

Absence Anarchy

“I was overwhelmed with all the paperwork that was on my desk. I wasn’t able to keep up with all of the filing that was going on. I had 13 filing cabinets in my office.”

That paperwork was no joke. When employees wanted to take an absence, they needed to fill out a 3-part form: one part for HR, one for the employee, and one for Payroll. “All leave requests were filled out on a piece of paper, and every building was keeping track in their own little notebook of who was going to be gone each day. They just had a list of names for substitutes, and that was creating a lot of paperwork. The leave wasn’t always accurate because then by the time it would get to me and someone had approved a day of leave for an employee, that person may not have had that leave balance available to them.”

Each night, Sandy would take two flip phones and begin calling substitutes. Principals would also take to the phones, trying to fill vacancies — but because buildings didn’t have an easy way to share information, substitutes often received multiple phone calls for same day jobs.

The Solution: Absence & Substitute Management

Newton Community School District purchased Frontline’s Absence Management, which made all the difference for Sandy, since substitutes can accept jobs through a mobile app. “I don’t have to call the subs, so that opened up my evenings at home. I was working from home and keeping track of all my hours until 10:00 at night calling people, and now it just does that on its own.”

The system also makes it easier for the district to track leave balances, and employees like it, too. “They no longer have to call and tell somebody that they can’t be at work tomorrow. They can quickly go into the system, put their absence in, and take care of life and know that it’s going to be taken care of.”

“Every time we add a solution, it’s remarkable to me how much time it saves me in areas I didn’t realize that I was still doing some busy work in.”

Sandy Scotton
– Human Resources Assistant

Time Tumult

Sandy doesn’t run payroll herself, but she does validate employees’ timesheets before the payroll department receives them — which, yes, used to mean a lot of paper. She would manually compare each employee’s timesheet to their leave balance in Absence Management to see if they had missed any days. “I was quickly realizing how much extra work that was creating as well. There were a lot of questions because [employee hours] weren’t matching up to the absences,” says Sandy. “Absence was in Frontline, the other system was not Frontline, so they weren’t talking on a daily basis.”

Errors were common. If an employee usually worked seven-hour days, they would often just write “7 hours” for every day of the month. “And then I would look at it. ‘No, actually, you were absent for several days,’ and so we were doing a lot of corrections on the paperwork.”

The Solution: Time and Attendance

Newton CSD added Frontline’s Time and Attendance because it connects seamlessly with Absence Management, ensuring that when someone enters an absence, that leave is automatically calculated as part of the employee’s time.

“They’re partners, because if you have one, you really need to have the other for them to be the most successful with each other. They go hand in hand, and without Time and Attendance, you’re missing out on a key component,” says Sandy.

Faster Timesheet Review Sandy now spends much less of her time poring over timesheets and can easily see when someone hasn’t clocked in. “Time sheets, when they were paper, they all came in once a month and I would spend hours, probably a full day, reviewing time sheets. Now I can just go in and run the ascending and descending differences in Time and Attendance and see where the discrepancies are.”

More Accurate Pay Now, Sandy knows that when an employee clocks in and out, they’re accurately capturing a record of time worked. People no longer rely on their memory to fill out timesheets if they forget one day, and if someone needs to stay 15 minutes longer to help with something, that’s now reflected in their pay.

A Game Changer: The Frontline Mobile App

“When the mobile app became available, that was a game changer for a lot of staff and subs.” Staff can request absences on the app, or check leave balances. Substitutes can accept jobs and choose how they would like to be notified. Hourly employees can clock in and out. “The mobile app is amazing because not only can they clock in and out on their phone, they can also see what leave is available to them. They submit their time sheets right from their phone. It’s a much more user-friendly system.”

Learn more about the Frontline Mobile App

Contract Chores, Onboarding Toil

Sending out contracts used to throw a wrench into Sandy’s schedule every year. Previously, she sent contracts out on paper, or eventually, through DocuSign. With each contract she would enter the salary terms and other employee information before sending it for a signature. It took about 90 seconds per contract which doesn’t sound like much, but consider, some people had up to 7 contracts!

5 Contracts Graphics

That’s just for one person — imagine doing that for over 500 employees!

“I would spend up to a week getting all the contracts ready manually. We were sending them out through DocuSign at the time, so every single contract that went out, I would have to type the person’s name and email address into DocuSign and then send it out,” says Sandy. And if the employee didn’t act quickly and the signature request timed out, she would need to send it again.

Onboarding new employees was also a challenge. Sandy would mail paperwork to new hires, then follow up to ensure they filled out the paperwork on time. Once she had the documents in hand, she manually distributed them to each person in the district who needed to see the information.

The Solution: Frontline Central

“One of my favorite things with Frontline that we’ve ever done was to bring on Frontline Central which expedites sending contracts and employment agreements to our staff,” says Sandy.

No longer does sending out contracts take a week or more — now, it takes less than a day, most of which is simply spent verifying that employee information is correct. “No longer are the contracts being lost when they get sent in the mail to the employee. They’re right there electronically where they can review them. It’s a quick turnaround.”

Sandy runs reports in Central to see who has outstanding contracts or other documents for signature and can even set automatic email reminders. “In Frontline, I can put an expiration date in there. It sends out the reminder, and then if they don’t meet the expiration date, you can either choose to have it be inactive or extend the deadline if necessary.”

Onboarding is similarly seamless. Sandy set up unique onboarding packets for different groups of employees and substitutes, which she sends to them through Frontline Central. “Upon being hired, the packet is sent out to them, which includes seven to eight documents, depending on the role that they’re being hired for.” Deadlines are set for each document, which sends out an email reminder that the deadline is near.

Employees can log in to see their own documents, and custom permissions give departments access to the documents they need. “I have permissions set up for Payroll to see all the payroll documents, where before I would collect the documents, I’d mark off on a piece of paper that I received them, and then I would scan them into the system and walk them back to Payroll. Now our payroll specialist is able to log in and see payroll information like direct deposit forms and W-4s.”

And once a new employee or sub comes on board, their information automatically populates to other Frontline systems like Absence Management and Time and Attendance, saving Sandy from having to re-enter that information.

More Time for What Matters Most

Sandy says that the time she doesn’t need to give to paperwork she can now spend on people. “It gave me back more time to work on other things, and that’s where I find pride in meeting with the employees and the substitutes in person, because I like that personal contact with them. I have a background in psychology, so I like that people interaction and I want everyone to feel like they’re valued to the district.”

And those 13 filing cabinets that occupied so much space in Sandy’s office? Now there are only 2.

“I’m in Frontline every day. It’s part of my daily life. It’s where I am most comfortable. It makes my day run smoothly because there’s more interaction with the Frontline systems than there is with paper on my desk, so I can just navigate through the Frontline system to get my processes done every day.” 

Sandy Scotton
– Human Resources Assistant