Records Management System Recovers Big Dollars

Article excerpt

Since the passage of and amendments to the Local Government Records Act, school districts and local governments are beginning to find themselves with a multitude of resources to accomplish its mandates. Records management software has come a long way in meeting the needs of the local manager. Networks of regional record managers are becoming prevalent and have proven to be a great source for information. More and more record managers are no longer being burdened with other tasks; their efforts are devoted entirely to records management. Of course, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission continues to provide districts and local governments with outstanding support. Since the implementation of the Local Government Records Act, many Texas schools have moved from casual records management to the implementation of highly organized, efficient systems.

Records management must provide the necessary guidelines and procedures to keep the district on legal grounds, and it must provide a service for its customers. Records management programs should exist for no other reason. Keeping an organization on solid ground requires one to keep current on all state and local guidelines. Districts must have a procedural manual outlining procedures and time constraints. In addition, districts must adopt the state's retention schedule, or create their own control schedule.

Service is the primary reason for the existence of the records management program at the Arlington Independent School District (ISD). Imperative goals for this system include the ability to retrieve records in a relatively short time period, and to deliver them upon request. It is also very important that the records owner feel confident that his or her records are being maintained in a safe and orderly manner.

Shifting Records

The Arlington ISD Records Management Center originated with one person and a single personal computer handling the task of managing the entire district's records. Various record managers assigned to each school or department were not an option then. One department supervisor demonstrated the need for records management reform as she revealed the condition in which she maintained her inactive records. The documents were stored in a large, non-air-conditioned warehouse, and consisted of 40 pallets stacked four high. She had a pretty good feel for where the records were located, and would instruct the forklift operator to start moving pallets until she found the one that might have her record in it. This hit and miss task generally required all day. However, over the course of seven years, the records management program has been upgraded so that each record has a specific location and each container is clearly marked with information relating to that record.

The Arlington Records Management Center tracks, archives and manages 400 types of inactive records, as well as every type of record associated with the district's various schools and departments. The Records Management Center now tracks over 200,000 inactive individual student records, 8,000 inactive professional personnel service records, 7,500 inactive auxiliary personnel records, and 8,480 special education records. In addition, 800 of the containers are classified as permanent. The program currently chronicles records for 101 departments and schools, with documents located in two current centers and 26 other locations. Many schools in the district keep some inactive records on campus, which are documented in the database. This practice proves beneficial because it prevents losing track of records at other locations as personnel move to other jobs or leave the district.

The existing climate controlled Records Management Center has a capacity of 6,000 standard size containers, plus accommodations for diskettes and cassette tapes. Due to the district's success and satisfaction with the management system, expansion of storage facilities is underway in order to accommodate an additional 7,500 containers. …