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Q&A with San Juan Island: Why This Washington State School District Switched to Red Rover

June 21, 2021   •   Case Studies

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Nestled in the Salish Sea of the Pacific Ocean sits Washington state’s San Juan Island. With a population of around 7,000 people, it’s the second-largest of the San Juan Islands, an archipelago that bears the same name. The 55-square mile island’s public school district oversees five educational facilities: the Friday Harbor elementary, middle, and high schools; Stuart Island School; and Griffin Bay School, an alternative parent-partner virtual curriculum that offers online courses.

Meet the School District

With more than 750 students, this Washington state school district is viewed as one of the best school districts in the state. San Juan Island schools are known for their low staff turnover, hands-on involvement from parents and the community, a healthy economic environment, and racial diversity. 

This Washington school district faced many unique needs that required a customizable and adaptable absence management software system. Not quite satisfied with their current solution, San Juan School District Human Resources Director Cynthia McVeigh turned to Red Rover. 

After working with two of our team members, Jim O’Halloran and Larry Foxx, McVeigh was able to quickly implement Red Rover’s easy-to-use absence management system, which she considers a vast improvement from the district’s previous system. 

The San Juan Island School District chose to implement a variety of Red Rover’s available features, including absence balance tracking, the bulletin board feature, mobile app push alerts and notifications, and both school and classroom information.

We sat down with McVeigh to learn why they switched to Red Rover, how staff members were adapting to the new absence management program, and what features she found most useful. 

Q&A with San Juan Island School District

Q: What were your top three pain points surrounding absence management before choosing Red Rover?

A: Reports. Reports. Reports! The reporting mechanism in Red Rover is an infinite improvement over our previous system.


Q: What ultimately made you choose Red Rover as your K-12 absence management software? 

A: Gorgeous reports, a beautiful and user-friendly user interface, state-of-the-art usability features, receptive and responsive support, and cost savings. 


Q: What apprehensions did you have before switching to Red Rover? What helped ease these issues? 

A: We were hesitant to switch to a startup with a small staff. Would they survive their first year? Would they be able to provide timely and accurate support? Would the system “break” on the first day of school? 

We were also apprehensive about introducing new technology during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our teachers had already overcome a huge learning curve in switching on a dime to a remote teaching model. 

But the Red Rover team quickly impressed us with their knowledge and commitment, staying involved during the implementation process and throughout the start of the new school year. Red Rover’s chat support is state of the art, and responses are helpful and nearly instantaneous with prompt follow-up when necessary. 

Our staff was able to adopt the new interface with no complaints. One teacher later told me he groaned when he first heard we had replaced the old absence management system. But once he started using it, he realized there was nothing to worry about.


Q: As one of the best school districts in Washington state, how has your team adapted to the software?

A: This year, we decided to leverage the transition to Red Rover as an opportunity to encourage classified staff to use an online absence management system to report and track leaves and absences. They hadn’t been required to in the past, and we realized that for the sake of consistency and efficiency, we needed them to get on board. 

Training was offered to all food service, bus, and custodial staff. But prior to training, most of them had already logged in and figured it out on their own. Surprisingly, there was no pushback at all! It’s been a breeze!


Q: What’s your favorite Red Rover feature? 

A: The user interface is easy on the eyes, and even more pleasant to use. I love the absence balances and bulletin features as well as the ability to push notifications to employees’ mobile devices. We've even used this to advertise hard-to-staff summer school positions with good results. The building and classroom information features are also big pluses!


Q: From a technology standpoint, what surprised you the most about Red Rover?

A: In addition to the features noted above, the ability to suggest, vote on, comment on, and track the progress of enhancements is outstanding. Red Rover cracked the code on how to do this effectively. 


Q: From a customer service standpoint, what surprised you the most about Red Rover?

A: I'm most impressed and surprised that developers and engineers could be as effective in frontline customer support roles as Red Rover's team has been and continues to be. 


Q: Would you recommend Red Rover to another Washington state school district? Why or why not? 

A: I already have and am available to provide recommendations. Happy to do so!


Q: How did switching to Red Rover impact your school district’s budget? 

A: Our overall cost was reduced by switching to Red Rover. Considering the quality of the product, support, and unique features, (instant absence balance updates, bulletins, notifications, staff photos, building and classroom information, and so on), Red Rover gives you a lot of bang for the buck!

Bring Your District into the 21st Century 

Can you relate to this story? Does your district face similar problems and ongoing challenges because of outdated technology and an ever-changing educational landscape? Red Rover can help. From modern absence management features and seamless integration to 30-second customer support chat times and a simplified absence approval process, we’ve got you covered. Learn why hundreds of districts are switching to Red Rover to save time and money. 

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