Teresa McMinn, a 24-year veteran journalist, is the Cumberland Times-News Digital Editor in Western Maryland.

Local graduate helping county schools digitize records

Keith Vasconcellos, left, and Tyrone Miller load a file cabinet containing student records into a truck Tuesday at Fort Hill High School. The Allegany County school system has contracted with a Virginia company to scan, index and store the records electronically.

CUMBERLAND — With help from one of its graduates, Allegany County Public Schools will soon catch up to the rest of Maryland when it comes to records maintenance. 

ACPS Chief IT Officer Nil Grove at a June school board meeting said she estimates more than a million images in student files are stored in paper form.

“(About 125) file cabinets are currently overflowing in the schools,” she said and added it’s difficult for school staff to locate paper student files when requested. Sometimes, student records are needed for proof of graduation, attendance or immunization. “Allegany County is probably the only remaining county in the state of Maryland that does not utilize a company to (store records) electronically.”

The piles of paper include graduate and withdrawal records that must be permanently stored, Grove said.

For the past 15 years, ACPS employed a technician to scan some records and store them electronically. However, that person retired and the school system did not fill the vacant position.

But, only a low percentage of records have ever been scanned.

The cost for one person to scan remaining documents in-house would be roughly $20,000 per year and would take six years, Grove said.

The Board of Education in June voted to contract a company to scan, index and store permanent student records electronically within about five to six months at a cost of about $65,000, with a $1,500 annual fee for ongoing services.

John “P.J.” Yates is a 1995 Allegany High School graduate. He and his wife Mandy, an Oldtown native, met while they were students at Frostburg State University. 

Today, the couple live in Virginia Beach with their two children and dog. Mandy Yates is an elementary school literacy coach and reading specialist. P.J. Yates is director of marketing for DOMA Technologies, a digital services company in the Resort City.

DOMA’s customers include the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and MGM Resorts International. 

“We have customized solutions for all different types of industries,” P.J. Yates said. 

Recently, he embarked on a cold-call campaign and reached out to ACPS. The connection resulted in a contract between DOMA and the local school system to digitize records.

“This is a pretty substantial records management project,” P.J. Yates said. DOMA staffers will make “a lot of trips” between Virginia Beach and Allegany County to collect the school system’s records. “Once we have the documents, we have scanners that rapidly scan.”

DOMA Software Executive Josh Borum estimated that roughly 12,000 pounds of ACPS paper records will be digitized.

“On behalf of DOMA Technologies, we are very excited to have the opportunity to partner with and help ACPS with this project,” Borum said via email. “They will now have instant access to all of their student records through our cloud-based technology and will no longer have to go digging through filing cabinets in search of a transcript.”   

Learn more about DOMA Technologies at domaonline.com.

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