Kentucky and Tyler Technologies have completed a two-year, statewide initiative moving 173 school districts onto a cloud-based system powered by servers and software in a data center 1,000 miles away, making Kentucky the largest U.S. school system to deploy a cloud-based financial management system. The school system will now use a hosted version of Tyler’s Munis enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
“Essentially, we were at a point where we would have had to architect new on-site solutions for each school district, sacrificing features, and we would have had to make sure each district had the technology in place. That’s when I decided we needed to push for a cloud system so we could cut that out,” explains David Couch, associate commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Education, in an interview with Civsource. Many of the existing implementations of Munis and the underlying servers were at the end of their life cycle, which forced Couch and other officials to have to seriously consider how much further to go with on-site solutions.
“With our move to the cloud, we were able to upgrade to the newest version of Munis and realize new features through that.”
Couch notes that Kentucky already leads much of the nation in other cloud implementations including statewide email and other critical government services. The upgrade to a cloud-based Munis implementation took less than two years. Over time, school districts’ initial reluctance cleared as Couch proved the cloud-based system’s benefits. “Once people realized how easy it was to work with this, we’ve had a lot of adoption. Frankly, the fact that the implementation has been mostly met with silence is a good thing. If it wasn’t working, I would have heard about it,” he says.
Of Kentucky’s 174 school districts, the remaining Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) is working with Tyler on a migration plan, and will keep its more than 100,000 students and 6,400 teachers on its current, on-premise Munis system until the migration is complete.
“This project was a successful collaboration between Tyler, KDE and Kentucky school districts. Migrating approximately 10 districts per month in less than two years, and completing the project on time and on budget, is no small feat,” said Richard E. Peterson Jr., president of Tyler’s ERP & School Division.
By going to the cloud, Kentucky will be able to realize additional benefits such as comprehensive disaster recovery and business continuity capability which would have been cost prohibitive to deploy on a district-by-district basis on-site. Tyler also maintains an evergreen licensing policy which will ensure that the school system will always operate on the newest version available.
“I think this can be a model for other agencies, in Kentucky or nationally, we are happy to help get information out to other agencies and school systems,” Couch says.
Couch also put together this video describing the process: