A one-year, $46,350 contract will give META Solutions the responsibility of reporting enrollment and other important Wellington Schools data to the state this year.
The board of education renewed the firm’s deal in late July.
META was first brought on to oversee Education Management Information System — or EMIS — reporting last year after district business manager Tim Wulfhoop was fired that April.
“We don’t have anyone currently in-house who’s trained to be an EMIS coordinator,” said schools treasurer Tina Gabler. “META is in the process of developing an EMIS training program. It’s a huge undertaking to become an EMIS coordinator and, honestly, there’s not too many people out there who are trying to become one.”
Gabler said META’s yearly fee is less than what it would cost to hire a full-time coordinator. Jen Sanders of META works in the Wellington schools two-and-a-half days per week.
“We’re fortunate the person we have from META is very skilled and very trained,” she said. “The former business manager had a lot of roles and responsibilities. When he left, all of those voids weren’t necessarily filled.”
Last year, Tom Tucker, then working as interim district superintendent, brought up discrepancies in the EMIS system that don’t properly account for students who leave a public school through open enrollment, when they decide to attend a charter school, or due to a family court decision.
He said when a student leaves a district for any reason, it’s up to the school they departed to report that information to the Ohio Department of Education.
If that student is not removed from a district’s books, it’s considered to be someone not attending class and receiving zeroes.
If a student enrolls in a charter school, the public district they left is not informed if the student switches schools again down the line, which makes it even harder for their home district to track, Tucker said.
While a concrete number was not determined, Tucker said EMIS reporting for Wellington has been slightly off and that it could end up costing the district money in the immediate future.
In July, board member Ayers Ratliff asked if it would be worth hiring someone to double-check EMIS counts.
“Mr. Wulfhoop did EMIS for years and we never know if the numbers are being turned in correct,” he said. “How do we really know? I’d have no problem giving one of our employees a smaller supplemental contract to give those numbers a second look.”
Superintendent Ed Weber said that while he hopes to have a full-time EMIS coordinator in the future, he’s confident in META for the time being.
“Jen Sanders does a good job for us,” he said. “She’s very experienced. She cross-checks and digs through our data and double-checks things with us all the time. I’m confident we’re getting good value with META but I do think over the long-term we need to being this in-house.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.