Puget Sound Educational Service District
RingCentral MVP helped this educational agency continue serving half a million students through COVID
The lockdowns transformed our agency’s operations overnight. But because we had RingCentral, our staff was able to continue helping the schools, students, and families who depend on the services we provide.
employees, covering two counties, can now reach each other from any device
disjointed telecom environments consolidated into one cloud platform
Serving half a million students each year
Many schools in the State of Washington, especially those in underserved communities, struggle to fund the administrative, educational, and special-needs services that would allow them to unlock every student’s full potential. For the hundreds of thousands of students across King and Pierce counties, Puget Sound Education Service District is there to help.
One of nine regional agencies created by the state’s legislature, PSESD supports schools, districts, and families through regional efficiencies, centralized services, and pooled resources.
PSESD offers more than 100 programs to the region’s 35 school districts, 7 charter schools, 2 tribal compact schools, and 272 private schools. In fact, the agency’s services cover more than 430,000 K-12 public school students. And through their Educare Seattle program, PSESD provides early-learning services to the families of thousands of children 5 and under.
But managing such a complex operation was placing communication challenges on PSESD. Some employees were based in offices, others were embedded in various school districts across two counties, and still others spent their time in the field providing home-based child development services.
So, as one of PSESD’s on-prem phone systems neared end-of-life, the agency took the opportunity to migrate to unified cloud communications.
A disjointed telephony infrastructure wasn’t helping this distributed team
Until recently, PSESD’s geographically distributed employees were trying to stay connected across four different telephony arrangements. The agency had an outdated phone system at its headquarters, another outdated system at its Educare early-learning facility, landlines from different carriers providing communications to local offices, and remote staff using their personal cell numbers to communicate with coworkers and the families they were serving.
Diana Brown, PSESD’s Technology Director, explains that this arrangement had become untenable. “Trying to connect employees across locations, or from an office to a home visitor in the field, was a challenge because we were all using different systems. Also, because they were using their own mobile numbers, anytime a home visitor stopped working for us, that could create gaps in care because the families they were serving had only that number to access services.”
Bringing the agency closer with cloud communications
When PSESD migrated to the unified RingCentral MVP (Message, Video, Phone) platform, the agency’s distributed employees were able to collaborate more easily than ever. “We went from varying degrees of communication chaos to every employee being able to reach any of their coworkers, from any device, using a four-digit dial.”
As Diana also points out, the PSESD employees that previously had the most difficulty from a communications standpoint now had a mobile solution that connected them fully and easily to the rest of the organization.
“One of the main reasons I wanted a cloud-hosted system was to give our home visitors and our remote staff all the communication capabilities of an employee sitting at a desk in our headquarters. With RingCentral’s softphone and mobile apps, we’ve accomplished that. All our employees can now easily call, exchange secure messages, and have video conferences with their coworkers from wherever they are.”
In fact, Diana notes, migrating to RingCentral also helps PSESD better serve its early-learning population. “Now that our home visitors are using their PSESD numbers on their mobile devices to communicate with families, if they leave the agency, we can automatically route those families’ calls to someone here who can help.”
Whenever the weather got bad, we faced a binary question: Can we bring everyone into the office safely, or should we shut down for the day? Having RingCentral has proven we have a third option.
Serving students in need with RingCentral Video
When the pandemic forced PSESD’s entire staff to shift to remote work with only a day’s notice, the employees were able to make that transition immediately, using RingCentral’s softphone and mobile apps in their makeshift home-based workstations. But the RingCentral platform didn’t limit the staff to phone calls.
“We also saw a significant uptick in usage of the RingCentral Video platform,” Diana says. “Those video conferences helped teams connect face-to-face, helped us run our staff meetings, and allowed our employees to communicate with our school district partners.”
But as Diana points out, the most significant benefit of having RingCentral Video during the lockdowns was that it allowed the agency’s educators to help the students who needed it most.
ReLife School is a program we run for special-needs students —children at serious risk from the isolation of the lockdowns. And we did have to close the ReLife facility. But because we had RingCentral Video, we were able to continue educating them by video conference, and these students weren’t left behind.