Kentucky Schools Meet in April to Share Best Practices
On April 24-25, Kentucky higher education institutions will meet at Kentucky Community and Technical College System to discuss how they are more efficiently and effectively using limited resources to manage their large systems.
Responding to the growing concerns over funding cuts and the need to trim budgets, higher education institutions in Kentucky have turned to high-tech scheduling software to help manage their campuses. More than 80 education leaders from 25 institutions will share their results and best practices at the Kentucky Ad Astra Summit on April 24-25 at Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) located in Versailles, KY.
"The purpose of the Summit is to allow schools to network to learn best practices from one another about implementation and utilization of our patented scheduling software," said Tom Shaver, Ad Astra Information Systems Founder and President. While attendees are primarily from Kentucky colleges and universities, a few institutions from Ohio and Illinois are expected to attend.
Like many states, Kentucky struggles to adequately fund higher education needs. Since 1999, state support for public institutions has dropped approximately $260 million, according to the Council on Postsecondary Education. In January, the Council said that Kentucky students could face significant tuition increases over the next decade if lawmakers cut state funding, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper. For example, tuition at community colleges has already increased from $3,750 to approximately $8,400.
To combat escalating costs, several higher education institutions in Kentucky have experienced significant savings by implementing Astra Schedule, an interactive scheduling system from Ad Astra Information System that helps coordinate academic, event and resource scheduling functions in one enterprise-wide system. The outcomes included greater energy efficiency, financial savings, and improved class offerings.
WKU Realizes Energy Savings
In the past three years, Western Kentucky University (WKU) has saved more than $345,000 during the summer months by consolidating classes and temporarily closing buildings that were not as energy efficient. WKU used the Astra Schedule Optimizer to schedule the summer academic sections in the selected buildings deemed most energy efficient.
"We saved $185,000 in 2010 on utility and electrical costs alone. This figure doesn't include related costs such as janitorial and other services," said Jessica Steenbergen, WKU Scheduling Applications Coordinator.
Last summer, WKU improved upon efforts by repeating the building closures and carefully analyzing weekly room activity reports produced by Astra Schedule to better manage its use of air conditioning in certain buildings. The institution experienced even better results.
KCTCS Success Story
The Kentucky Community and Technical College System, Kentucky's largest provider of post-secondary education and workforce training, recently began using Astra Schedule as well. The statewide system has 68 campuses and boasts an enrollment of more than 106,000 students. KCTCS worked closely with Ad Astra to create a project implementation plan.
Throughout the process, a system-wide approach was stressed, and key staff from all of the colleges played an important role. A productivity kit was created with training documents for all end-users.
Results were immediate. "Astra not only provides up-to-date information about room usage, but just as importantly, it provides the College with information relevant to our academic scheduling. This information provided in real time allows us to better plan for the academic needs of our students, to more efficiently plan our schedule of class offerings, and to ensure our students will have access to course offerings in a location or mode of delivery that meets their needs," said Dr. Tony Honeycutt, Provost of Somerset Community College.
Shirley Engle of Hazard Community and Technical College (HCTC) is pleased to be working with the new system. "Astra Schedule has made a significant difference in space utilization at HCTC. We now have a centralized system that contains both our classroom and event space assignments in one easy to access system," said Engle. "Before Astra Schedule, we were using an outdated system that only contained our events, so we were not able to maximize the use of our classroom space. Now, with Astra Schedule, we can schedule our classrooms much more efficiently. Astra Schedule also gives us the ability to have multiple room schedulers at our five campus locations, which has helped decrease our response time on room requests for the college and its community."
Astra Schedule allows KCTCS colleges to streamline the room assignment process. Scheduling is updated nightly, ensuring accurate data reports daily. Class bottlenecks are exposed and can be addressed immediately. Data-driven reports now indicate how space is utilized and where improvements need to be made.
"Before Astra Schedule, we maintained space planning in multiple systems. It took weeks to gather and verify data for reports to the State Council on Postsecondary Education. With Astra Schedule it is much more efficient, these reports are a click away," said Doug Roberts, System Director of Budget and Financial Planning.
With the current economic environment, the ability to maximize its resources and reduce costs at the same time is essential. "Knowing our current space inventory, what classrooms are available and the occupancy potential at the click of a button allows us to plan strategies to increase revenue while reducing our expenses," said Amber Moreland, KCTCS Financial Planning Analyst.
"Increasing budget cuts and the challenge to maximize resources created a desperate need to maximize space utilization and save on energy costs," said Moreland.
KCTCS recognized that gaining a better understanding of its class and event space usage could improve its energy consumption and reduce utility costs; reduce bottlenecks in class scheduling so that students have greater access to required courses; and save valuable staff time spent on scheduling classes and events over their many campuses.
At the April Summit, schools will learn more about these success stories and best practices for improving their institutions.
Media is welcome at the Summit:
For interviews, please contact Tracey Mershon, 816.289.0027, firstname.lastname@example.org
About Ad Astra Information Systems
Based in Overland Park, KS, Ad Astra Information Systems has a North American presence with customers in the United States and Canada. More than 550 college and university campuses have licensed Ad Astra software products and services since 1996 to help them with their facilities scheduling, event management, resource management and more. The results of using the Ad Astra advanced technology include significant cost savings; better management of facilities, meeting space and classrooms; and greater student satisfaction and graduation rates. With scheduling and planning among the most strategically important activities in which an institution can engage, The Astra Schedule Suite has become the standard for higher education scheduling software. Ad Astra invests significant resources into research and development and was the first company of its kind to develop a web-based platform for higher education scheduling software. In 2010, the United States Patent Office issued Ad Astra a patent for its innovative method of determining student demand for academic course. The company is committed to improved student success and resource management efficiency in higher education. For more information, visit www.aais.com .