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I am looking for a school management system to replace a homegrown Access db.

It should be able handle the following for both a Primary and Secondary school

  • Scheduling classes
  • Student Enrollment
  • Allow teacher to enter grades and comments
  • Generate transcripts and report cards
  • Handle attendance
  • Handle tuition billing

It should store data in a server database like SQL Server and it would be nice to have a web interface.

We are open to a commercial system or an Open Source system that comes with support.

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I should add that we don't need a billing system, just be able to keep track of the school fees. – Paul Nov 30 '10 at 5:11
So far PowerSchool and Lumens are the only tools that look promising. – Paul Nov 30 '10 at 5:16

This is a huge topic. I just completed a selection process at the college where I'm IT Director for a system such as you describe, and I can tell you that they run into the hundred's of thousands of dollars or more, depending on school size. This is especially true when you tack on that billing requirement (most SIS-only systems don't do much for billing). The list of potential vendors is lengthy:

I pulled this list from several options that our college looked at. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I can tell you that we selected Jenzabar EX/JICS. We're just beginning the implementation so I haven't formed much more of an opinion of the software yet beyond what was demoed for us, and it's targeted at higher ed anyway (as are several others listed here). You'll have to go out there and do a lot of research to find out what option best fits your needs, and that's just the beginning. You'll also need to create buy-in from faculty, staff, and administration, and implementing these systems isn't usually very turn-key either.

I can also say that you don't want to roll your own. There are two reasons for this. One is the "hit by a bus scenario". Imagine you build this and are the de facto only person who has any hope of supporting it. Then you get hit by a bus or for some other reason are not able to work on the system. That really leaves the school out cold. The other reason is government reporting requirements. A huge benefit in choosing a product with paid maintenance is that you know they're keeping up with all the changes in the required reports every year, and even if for some reason they don't, there will be enough other schools with the same vendor that you have combined leverage with the government to avoid penalty.

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I totally agree with you about not rolling our own system. One of the staff wrote their own system in Access and it is a nightmare to support. – Paul Nov 9 '10 at 22:22
I have heard of some Open Source projects that you can use that have paid support options. Does anybody know of any of these types of options. – Paul Nov 10 '10 at 4:32

My school used Lumen Software's WeBSIS. It worked fairly well and, if I remember correctly, has all of the features you are looking for. I believe Lumen can also customize it for your needs, as well.

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Two options I've seen employed to varying degrees of success:

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If you are UK-based SIMS is highly used in the education sector. It (apparenlty) has an 80% market share and uses MS SQL Server.

Wikipedia Overview.

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I'd have a chat with a few people who actually use SIMS before getting excited about it! – Linker3000 Nov 10 '10 at 19:03

For open source solutions, take a look at SchoolTool, OpenSIS, or Open Admin for Schools.

FYI, I have ZERO personal knowledge of these systems. Your question just piqued my interest and I started looking to see what options are out there. (I am a dork like that; I just like to research and see what kinds of software people are using for various purposes.) I had heard of the open source learning management system (LMS) Moodle and started researching by seeing what kinds of SIS programs people were integrating with it.

Hope that helps!

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None of these handle tuition billing – Joel Coehoorn Dec 13 '10 at 20:20

We are trying openSIS and it seems like it will meet our needs. The community edition, which we are hosting on our own server seems to do what we want. We will probably opt for the billing module and LDAP integration.

The Community edition is open source and free. It is apache/php/MySQL

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up vote 0 down vote accepted

We decided to go with OpenSIS and it was a disaster. Bad support that was provided offshore and bugs in fundamental functions such as GPA calculation.

We ended up going with Sycamore

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