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MAY 2015

INFORM Digital Magazine




5700 West Canal Road Valley View, OH 44125 216.520.6900 1885 Lake Avenue Elyria, OH 44035 440.324.3185


Welcome to “INFORM”—North Coast Council’s new digital magazine. We are committed to providing the highest quality services to our members and in an effort to increase our communication with those we serve, we have created this digital magazine. Our hope is that providing periodic updates in this format will allow you to remain informed of all the happenings with your technology provider. Each issue will provide you with a calendar of upcoming events, updates from each service area, highlights of some of our professional development workshops and programs, as well as an introduction to some of the hard-working NCC employees that provide you with training and support. In this issue, we provide updates on some key technology upgrades and initiatives. One of our most exciting initiatives is identifying an alternative to state financial software. Also in this issue, we remind you about our Managed Services offering that encompasses a holistic approach to managing your entire network from user

endpoints all the way back to our Core network. As area treasurers plan for a smooth and successful FY15 year-end closing, the NCC fiscal services team suggests a few ideas our treasurers can do now to make June and July easier. This issue also highlights our Library Professional Development Day this past March that inspired educators to examine new ideas for students. If you have ideas on future stories you would like us to cover in this magazine, feel free to contact me or any of our NCC staff. North Coast Council strives to be your one stop shop for all your technology needs. We are here to be your trusted advisors and help guide you down the winding road of technology. Our door is always open and we welcome your comments and suggestions on how we can serve you better. We wish you and your family a relaxing summer and we look forward to working with you in the fall for a brand new school year. - John Mitchell, Executive Director North Coast Council


Fiscal June 4 8:30 – 11 AM Fiscal Year End – Payroll NCC West Office Elyria June 5 8:30 – 11 AM Fiscal Year End – Payroll NCC West June 11 8:30 AM - NOON Fiscal Year End – Budgetary NCC East June 12 8:30 AM - NOON Fiscal Year End – Budgetary NCC West

Student May 27 8:30AM – 3:30 PM EMIS Open Lab NCC West May 27 9 AM – NOON ProgressBook End of Year Meeting NCC East May 28 9 AM - NOON PowerSchool Overview NCC East

May 28 1 - 4 PM StudentInformation Overview NCC East May 29 9 AM – 3 PM PowerScheduler Workshop NCC West June 2 9 AM – 3 PM PowerScheduler Workshop NCC West June 3 9AM - 4 PM EMIS Open Lab NCC West June 10 9AM - 4 PM EMIS Open Lab NCC West June 11 9 AM - NOON PowerSchool Elementary Scheduling NCC West June 11 1 – 4 PM PowerScheduler Workshop NCC West June 17 9AM - 4 PM EMIS Open Lab NCC West June 24 9AM - 4 PM EMIS Open Lab NCC West

July 1 9AM - 4 PM EMIS Open Lab NCC West July 15 9AM - 4 PM EMIS Open Lab NCC West July 29 9AM - 4 PM EMIS Open Lab NCC West

August 5 10:30 AM - NOON ProgressBook GradeBook Beginning of School NCC East August 6 9 AM – 10:30AM Student Information/ DASL Beginning of School NCC East

August 3 9AM - NOON PowerSchool Elementary Scheduling NCC West

August 6 10:30 AM - NOON ProgressBook GradeBook Beginning of School NCC East

August 3 1 – 3 PM PowerSchool Fees NCC West

August 12 9 AM – 4 PM EMIS Open Lab NCC West

August 4 9AM - NOON PowerSchool Elementary Scheduling NCC West

August 19 9AM - 4 PM EMIS Open Lab NCC West

August 4 1 – 3 PM PowerSchool Fees NCC West August 5 9AM - 4 PM EMIS Open Lab NCC West August 5 9 – 10:30 AM Student Information/ DASL Beginning of School NCC East

August 26 9AM - 4 PM EMIS Open Lab NCC West September 9 9 AM - NOON Student Information Discussion NCC East September 9 9AM - NOON PowerSchool Discussion NCC West





Ken Davis is a Systems Analyst/ Systems Services for North Coast Council. He has been with NCC since 1981. Ken received a Bachelor of Science in Math from Ohio University. His main duties involve maintaining the financial & payroll systems, EMIS data collector, EMIS online reports and managed email systems. Prior to working at North Coast Council, Ken worked seven years at Elyria Chronicle Telegram automating their financial & news systems. Ken lives in Birmingham (Erie Co.) with his wife Diane. They are active members in their community. Ken has just completed his 13th year as the boy’s & girl’s high school bowling coach for Firelands High School. His wife has been a 4-H advisor for more than 20 years.

You can reach Ken at: Phone: Email: LinkedIn: Address:


216-520-6900 x5154 5700 West Canal Road Valley View, OH 44125

BACK TO THE FUTURE FOR SCHOOL LIBRARIES The Library Services Department hosted its final meeting of the year for Library Liaisons on May 6. In addition to the usual business, it proved to be an interesting program because the past, present, and future all met in a single presentation delivered by Marie Sabol, retired librarian from Hudson City Schools. Hudson and Shaker Heights are two of three school systems in the state to pilot INFOhio’s ISearch. Like Internet search engines, ISearch uses a single search box. But unlike Internet search engines, ISearch scans across multiple collections of magazines and journals, newspapers, reports, primary sources, encyclopedias, videos, and eBooks in every subject, collections that just aren’t available on the open web. Beginning this summer, NCC’s other schools’ library catalogs will be added to the mix to create a virtual one-stop shopping center for information and learning. Marie was part of this product development and testing from its inception, so she was able to share her insight with, and address

questions from, her colleagues about integrating the library’s catalog and eBook subscriptions with online databases such as Ebsco’s Explora products, World Book encyclopedias, and Science Online, all of which are delivered by INFOhio and free for students and educators. Library staff also discussed plans to update the library software this summer. It will upgrade users from the current version of the Sirsi/Dynix library automation software to the new 3.5 version. This will position users to begin life the following year in the BLUEcloud where, ultimately, there is no installed client and updates are pushed down. Many of the BLUEcloud functionalities, such as mobile circulation, will be made available to INFOhio at no extra charge because it earned “BLUEcloud dollars” collaborating with Sirsi/ Dynix on ISearch. This is just one more way that INFOhio saves money on library automation for Ohio schools while, at the same time, supporting rigorous academic research.

What a school thinks about its library is a measure of what it thinks about education. Harold Howe, former U.S. Commissioner of Education



Library Professional Development Day Inspires Educators to Examine New Ideas for Students North Coast Council presented a Library Professional Development Day on Tuesday, March 10 at its Valley View location. More than 46 librarians, media specialists, technology staff, and teachers representing 38 districts and organizations expanded their knowledge on everything from flipped instruction to how to build a graphic novel collection. “Flipping Information Literacy Instruction” was the topic presented by Rebecca Synk and Meagan Fowler from St. Joseph Academy. The instructional librarians shared how they have successfully “flipped” instruction in their ninth grade information literacy unit. Rebecca and Meagan used information literacy content and tools to demonstrate and also discussed tips and pitfalls. Participants shared their own related experiences, asked questions and had the opportunity to adapt one of their own lessons. Lisa Ford from Mentor High School taught participants how to build a graphic novel collection. She offered suggested titles for

I just wanted to let you know that I feel rejuvenated after yesterday’s conference,” said Sandy Storey, library media specialist at Lakewood City Schools. “The topics were diverse and well-presented. The content provided much food for thought. It is wonderful to have professional development designed for my needs. Thank you for a wonderful day of learning.


elementary, middle, and high school students, as well as shared her experience implementing an eBook Manga program using iPods. She also discussed how to incorporate mature comic book selections into a high school library, as well as her experiences in promoting a graphic novel collection. Brandi Young, an INFOhio iLibrarian, explained how to implement a MakerSpace in the participants’ libraries. MakerSpaces provide hands-on spaces and tools to encourage students to design, experiment, build, invent and create as they engage in STEM, engineering and tinkering. Attendees learned how to start small and with minimal technology to gain the momentum needed to make this space intriguing and inviting for students. Carrie Waibel from OHIONET and Mike Casagrande from BrainPop provided an overview of their products and services, which are available at a discount to NCC customers.

I felt interested in listening to the presenters and by the end of their presentations I felt motivated to try their ideas,� said Natalie Dickerson, school librarian, St. Michael School in Independence. “I would be lost trying to figure out how to flip a classroom, collect the massive amount of comic books out there, or create a makerspace. Now I feel each of those tasks is doable because they broke their projects into steps, they did the legwork, and had experiences (good and bad) to report back to us all.



Library Professional Development Day Continued

North Coast Council thanks the following schools/organizations for attending: Amherst Schools Andrews Osborne Academy Avon Lake City Schools Avon Local Schools Bay Village Schools Bedford City Schools Benedictine High School BrainPop Brecksville-Broadview Heights Clearview Local Schools Cleveland Central Catholic Cleveland Hts-University Heights East Cleveland City Schools Fairview Park City Schools Garfield Hts. City Schools Hudson City Schools Independence Local Schools INFOhio Keystone Local Schools

Lakewood City Schools Laurel School Magnificat High School Mary Queen of Peace Mayfield City Schools Mentor City Schools Midview City Schools North Coast Council North Royalton City Schools OHIONET Old Trail School Orange City Schools Rocky River City Schools Saint Joseph Academy Sheffield-Sheffield Lake City Schools South Euclid Lyndhurst City Schools St. Michael School Western Reserve Academy Westlake City Schools

NCC’s next Library Professional Development Day will take place on August 15 at Westlake High School. Once available, details will be posted to




By Lori Slingerland, Support Specialist, North Coast Council

You, becoming a resource Ninja ‌ at your Library! What could be better than receiving electronic resources free from INFOhio? INFOhio is providing fresh, updated versions of existing databases without you having to lift a finger! These updated versions of popular INFOhio electronic resources include a new streamlined appearance, lots of astonishing color photographs, new and easy-to manipulate interfaces, and so much more! In mid-March, World Book released new interfaces for the ever-popular World Book Student and Advanced encyclopedias. Statewide implementation occurs in mid-May. The EBSCO suite of products has also announced interface changes with their introduction of

EBSCO Explora. Explora offers two new interfaces. Explora Primary Interface for grades K-5, and Explora Secondary for grades 6-12. With a bright, clean interface, EBSCO Explora is sure to be a popular option available from INFOhio and it is device agnostic too! The roll out for Explora occurs in mid-May. Never fear! The current interface is available until June 30 – for all those last minute research projects. Not to be outdone, LearningExpress Library announced improvements to their interface in April that includes a new search engine, an enhanced design to improve workflow, and device agnostic capabilities. Go explore and see how these updated versions of old favorites will enhance your research experience. With all of these options, you too, can become a Research Ninja @ your library!



FISCAL SERVICES PRESENTATION ALTERNATE FINANCIAL SOFTWARE More than 27 treasurers and other school district staff attended the North Coast Council (NCC) demonstration of the Alio financial software package on March 20 in the NCC offices in Valley View. Weidenhammer is a provider of technology solutions. The overview discussed financial administration, procurement through payment, budget preparation, general ledger, human resources, employee data, position control, payroll processing, employee services portal, and state reporting/EMIS. On May 7, more than 16 treasurers and other school district staff attended the NCC refresher demonstration of the Munis financial software package in our Valley View office. Tyler is a provider of the Munis solution that is also being considered as a replacement to state software. Like the Alio demonstration, the overview discussed financial administration, procurement through payment, budget preparation, general ledger, human resources, employee data, position control, payroll processing, employee services portal, and state reporting/EMIS.


Following the demonstration on May 7, NCC staff members reviewed the functionality, proposed costs, and potential implementation strategies for both solutions with NCC Treasurers. Interest in an alternative to state software remains very high among NCC members. NCC’s Treasurers are working with NCC staff to complete the review and negotiations for an affordable alternative to state software that meets the increasing needs of the entire school. Please look for additional updates in the coming months about this exciting alternative.


FISCAL SERVICES FISCAL-LY FIT How fast time flies..time to plan for a smooth, successful FY15 Year End Closing. The Fiscal team would like to suggest a few things you can do now to make June and July easier. 1. VALACT – Validation of Accounts the district is currently using. Over the last several years many changes have occurred in the account codes. Run VALACT to make sure your district has transitioned to all the current, valid account codes.

By Deb Carroll, Lead Support Specialist, North Coast Council

6. Long-term Absences – District should identify staff that had long-term absences (categorized as 15 (or more) consecutive days of absence. Once these employees are identified, staff records are updated to note the LTA and minimize the negative impact of staff absenteeism on the district report card.

The Fiscal Team has made the current year and the upcoming Fiscal Year “KNOW YOUR DATA” years. With all the changes from ODE and the potential of going to different fiscal software, NCC is encouraging all fiscal personnel to KNOW Your DATA. The NCC Fiscal team 2. ACTCHG – Change of account codes has been holding classes specifically directed for any incorrectly or realigned accounts. The at understanding what information is being ACTCHG program allows a district to update or processed and identifying if the alignment of the change any account codes that are no longer financial information adequately reflects your the best accounting for the district. ACTCHG district’s operations. With the many changes will update the account code anywhere in the in account codes, reduced funding, creative system, inclusive of POs, pay accounts and approaches to educating students and shared checks. services, NCC believes it is prudent to review the financial information that is sent to ODE 3. DELACT – Deletion of non-current account through the EMIS/Data Collector. Districts are codes. Taking the time to delete any accounts responsible to send Staff data and Year End that have no recent activity or are no longer valid Financial data to ODE. ODE uses this data to will make daily processing more efficient. publish District and Building Report Cards, make funding decisions and compare your operations 4. STRSAD – Verification of who is and who to other districts. As you also are well aware, is not on the STRS Advance list. All teachers and districts must also comply with the Auditor of academic year certified employees should be State regulations for financial reporting. The listed on the Advance list so those employees significance of accurate data that clearly and continue to contribute 12% of their earnings properly reflects your districts operations cannot over the summer months and move to the 13% be overstated. contribution mark for FY16 earnings. Please let NCC’s Fiscal team know if we can be of 5. PAYDEL – Program that allows the assistance in any way so your district can achieve deletion of “old” pay accounts that are no longer proper and adequate reporting for FY15 in an being used. Particularly helpful with previous easy and efficient manner. year Grant Accounts and Invalid accounts.

Looking forward to serving you as you close Fiscal Year 15 and begin Fiscal Year 16!




TECHNOLOGY SERVICES NEW SERVICE OFFERINGS A lot of exciting things have been happening all around NCC this past school year. On the tech side, we implemented our Core and Edge upgrades which allowed us to expand our bandwidth capacity. This expanded capacity will allow us to meet your current needs and your foreseeable future needs. We have continued our focus on supporting our customers in the most efficient and skilled manner that we can. To that end, we have recently implemented the state support ticketing system for technical issues. The system is called Cherwell. The roll out in all NCC departments is underway with several already completed. Cherwell will be a positive tool for us to use in cooperation with our customers to further enhance our communication and collaboration. We have also added many new services over the past couple of years that many customers may not know about. We have a Managed Services offering that encompasses a holistic approach to managing your entire network from user endpoints all the way back to our Core network. NCC is your one stop shop for all your technology needs. We are here to be your trusted advisors to help guide you down the winding road of technology. These exciting new offerings are being utilized right now by several public school districts, several private schools, and an ESC. SUMMER 2015 PROJECTS With summer fast approaching, now is the time to engage NCC for all your summer project needs. We can help with any projects you may have. Some examples of projects we have helped with this past year include: Setting up DNS Servers Setting up DHCP Servers Replacing existing wireless infrastructures Installing new wireless infrastructures New Server installations Server migrations


By Gary White, Director, Managed Services North Coast Council

Antivirus/Antimalware Assistance Desktop/laptop deployment Mobile Device Deployment Chromebook Deployment Cloud Migrations Remote Backup Deployment We schedule projects on a first come, first served basis. For those customers that have enrolled in our Managed Services programs, your summer projects may be included in your service plan and if they are not included, they qualify for substantial discounts. If you are not familiar with our Managed Services offerings and want to inquire how NCC can help you, please feel free to reach out to Gary White at In order to have the fastest and most efficient internet speeds and infrastructure as possible, we maintain DNS servers for our schools. We encourage those of you who are planning to make any DNS changes this summer to please let NCC staff know what changes you will be making and when. DNS changes are things such as A-record, C-names, MX records, etc. SERVER UPGRADES In order to continue providing a secure, stable, and efficient computing environment, we must update all of our Power School servers to version 8.x. This upgrade is substantial both from a systems requirement and software side. We expect each instance to require an extended maintenance window to complete this upgrade. As of today we have 40 instances. We will be working with each district to schedule this maintenance. NCC will also be completing a major upgrade to the ProgressBook Suite which includes both system software and ProgressBook Suite upgrade. These upgrades will allow for us to move to ProgressBook Suite 15. We will again be working with districts to schedule this maintenance.

We are here to be your trusted advisors to help guide you down the winding road of technology. INFORM



STUDENT SERVICES By Marilyn Deyling, Lead Support Specialist, North Coast Council MICROSOFT EXCEL CLASSES NCC partners with Lorain Community College for Microsoft Excel training for school student personnel. Both Basic Excel and Intermediate Excel trainings have been attended and well received. Trainings have been customized to reflect needs of participants through skills surveys. NCC is looking into providing additional courses to meet our client’s needs through our partnership with LCCC

“Excellent class! I have learned so many ways to use Excel! This will help me in my job as EMIS coordinator and my role as testing coordinator” -Patty Yager, Fairview Park City Schools

“Great Class! Lots of information presented at a quick pace for maximum learning!”


- Melissa Cochran, Elyria City Schools

ODE EMIS MONTHLY MEETINGS Brenda Hartley from ODE offers a monthly ODE Presentation for any school personnel who are responsible for any portion of EMIS Reporting both Student and Fiscal. This session is held at the Valley View office. Brenda’s presentation follows along with a PowerPoint that outlines the discussion topics. The topics covered are current issues, upcoming changes, and hot topics to those in the EMIS world. Participants are encouraged to ask questions and to take part in the lively discussions. Most of the EMIS-related questions are answered during the session but on occasion, a topic needs to be returned to ODE for their direct response. These ODE sessions at NCC offices are well attended and appreciated by the 60 plus attendees. NCC also offers webinars for the ODE EMIS Monthly meeting for those school personnel that cannot attend in person. Contact student-support@nccohio. org for more information. CHERWELL SERVICE MANAGEMENT On March 12, 2015, NCC replaced the CA Unicenter ServiceDesk with a new help desk solution: Cherwell (pronounced ‘share-well’). Cherwell was implemented for ITCs statewide and provides a direct link for the ITCs with state software support. Cherwell provides a workflow organizational structure that will aid support staff in managing customer requests while keeping customers informed regarding the progress of their issues/ tickets since customers receive emails at each stage of the process detailing status changes with accompanying explanations from NCC support staff. Resolved or closed issues are archived and can be reopened by the customer with a brief explanation, and logging categorized tickets allows NCC to analyze the types and prevalence of issues suggesting areas for further research and/or development. For these reasons, NCC suggests that customers use Cherwell for customer support requests. Options for creating Cherwell tickets include logging into the Cherwell Website or sending an

email to On the NCC support page, NCC Support, there is a link to the Cherwell website and a Cherwell Customer Quick Start Guide which describes the various options and procedures for submitting support tickets. NCC is excited about the implementation of Cherwell and its attendant customer support enhancements and encourages its customers to give the new system a try. POWERSCHOOL 8.2 UPGRADE Within the next several weeks, we will be upgrading to PowerSchool 8.2. We will be contacting districts for a two-day window to copy current data to the test database and to complete the upgrade task. SCHEDULING Student Services has had several scheduling in-services for both StudentInformation and PowerSchool. If you were unable to attend and need assistance, please email and we will get training set up for you. REPORT CARDS AND TRANSCRIPTS End of school is just around the corner! Please email as soon as possible if you have any transcript or report card format changes for next school year. For the PowerSchool districts, we will be offering a storing grades refresher for second semester. Look at for these to be scheduled. PROGRESSBOOK SUITE 15.0 We will be upgrading to ProgressBook Suite 15.0 this summer. This upgrade is to include the availability of student contact records on ParentAccess as well as the availability of parents editing contact records. The availability of parents editing contact records will rely on family groups. If your district has not set up family groups and would like assistance on this, please contact and we can schedule time with you. Also with this upgrade will be the availability of parents seeing a true report card generated out of StudentInformation or GradeBook.





North Coast Council supports two different student information systems, PowerSchool and StudentInformation (formerly DASL). Both systems include EMIS state reporting functionality, teacher gradebook, parent access, and modules to meet the various operational needs of your school. NCC’s support for both systems includes system hosting and upgrades, documentation, and unlimited training. You are invited to attend a daylong overview of both systems on Thursday, May 28, 2015 in our Valley View Office. The PowerSchool overview

will be presented in the morning beginning at 9:00 AM and finishing at 12:00 noon. The StudentInformation (DASL) overview will be presented in the afternoon beginning at 1:00 PM and concluding at 4:00 PM. This is an opportunity to see an overview of both solutions back-to-back. Please register on NCC’s events page or by contacting Diane Koski at 216520-6900, extension 5233 or via e-mail at

Did you enjoy the first issue of NCC’s INFORM? Do you have ideas for future stories or topics covered? Please let us know. Email with your suggestions and/or comments.


Inform - May 2015  

A digital magazine published by North Coast Council.

Inform - May 2015  

A digital magazine published by North Coast Council.