John Paul II High School

Blackbaud Enables John Paul II High School to Increase Operational Efficiency While Building a Strong Community

John Paul II High School is an exceptional place of learning, dedicated to providing a superior spiritual, academic, athletic, and artistic experience in a competitive college-preparatory environment and committed to creating leaders. The school’s mission is to develop leaders who are critical thinkers and effective communicators, committed to service, and rooted in faith.


John Paul II High School in Plano, Texas, opened its doors in 2005 with a student enrolment of 303 students. Today, the school has 644 students with a capacity to serve 1,200 students in grades 9-12. As a new, private school in a well-regarded public school district during a tumultuous economic time, the competition for students can be fierce. In order to grow the student body, become the technology-focused school that will effectively prepare students for the future, and market to prospective students, parents, and donors, the school needed a robust product line that would effectively service its entire constituent base. The school needed solutions to address the needs of its students, parents, faculty, alumni, and donors.


One of the goals of John Paul II High School is to be a technology leader in its community. To help achieve this vision, the school selected Blackbaud as its technology partner. Blackbaud has a strong reputation in the industry and offers a technology platform that spans from parents to students to donors. Plus, because all the products are with a single vendor, the school has the added benefit of a single platform of solutions that works across departments to enable the effective sharing of data and streamlining of processes from admissions to business to fundraising and events. The school also wanted a technology partner that will help drive technology adoption in the future.

John Paul II High School uses The Raiser’s Edge, The Financial Edge, The Education Edge, Online Admissions & Re-Enrolment™, Faculty Access for the Web, NetClassroom, Blackbaud NetCommunity, and Online Campus Community. Next year the school will add Online Billing to eliminate the need for printing, postage, and manual invoicing, and PaperSave to image and store documents in The Financial Edge. This will eliminate the amount of paper that must be stored throughout the building.

The combination of these solutions has enabled John Paul II High School to create a true, fully-comprehensive technology offering that gives all its constituents — students, parents, teachers, and donors — secure, online access to the information they want and provide the online experience that is expected by today’s constituents. The combination of products helps streamline processes, minimize manual data entry, and ensure data integrity across the school’s various administrative departments.

The school recently added Online Admissions & Re-Enrolment to its Blackbaud technology toolkit. The school selected this added feature of The Education Edge to better serve potential families. The admissions process is one of the first interactions that a new family or parent will have with the school. It is essential that the process demonstrates the school’s commitment to technology and delivers a positive online experience. A majority of these parents and families are using technologies like smartphones, iPad®s, and Facebook®. They bank online, shop online, and expect to be able to fill out admission applications online, too.

By moving the application process online, the admissions team at John Paul II High School can have a thumbprint on the number of families actively pursuing applications. The school can follow up on applications that have been idle and offer assistance or answer any questions. The ability to do this allows the school to demonstrate its commitment to students and families before a student even enrols. For the school, which wants to continually increase enrolment, this ability also serves as an easy marketing tool to give parents and students a glimpse of what it would be like as a member of the John Paul II High School community. The staff can also receive applications in real-time to enable faster and more efficient processing of applications.

Another driving factor behind the school's adoption of Blackbaud technology is the desire to build and engage its community online. Blackbaud NetCommunity and Online Campus Community bring valuable information to the fingertips of parents and students. After signing in to the website, parents can view billing statements, grades, assignments, events, classmates, and reports cards, for example. Students can also login and get daily grades, schedules announcements, and assignments.

The capabilities of Blackbaud NetCommunity and Online Campus Community extend beyond secure online access for parents and students. Donors are able to give online, prospective students are able to interact and learn more about the school, and alumni can register for events. For the school it is essential to provide these capabilities to its community. The fact that Blackbaud NetCommunity is on the same platform as its donor database, The Raiser’s Edge, is also key to the school’s operations. Because the two applications integrate, gift records and other interactions constituents have online are tracked and managed in a single repository. This makes manual processing minimal and ensures data integrity.

In addition to these products, the school also uses The Financial Edge, Blackbaud’s comprehensive financial management solution. The Financial Edge enables the school to maintain accountability, streamline processes, and gain a deeper financial insight. The combination of The Raiser’s Edge and The Financial Edge helps to ensure that gifts received are appropriately recorded in both systems. For Doreen Meeks-Hewes, controller for John Paul II High School, it means only five days to close the books. Reconciling between the two systems is practically seamless.

“The extensive ability to have multiple levels of financial statement reports staged in the queue, detailed general ledger reports, queries to balance student counts and the bank reconciliation module, reporting to our department heads, Trustees, and Board of Directors gives us an edge over many other nonprofits and schools in the area that are not using the Blackbaud product line,” Meeks-Hewes added.


For John Paul II High School the advantages of Blackbaud’s suite of products have been experienced by every department within the school and in the school’s community.

The admissions office has been able to save time processing applications with Online Admissions & Re-Enrollment. Paper applications would have to be manually entered, taking up to 12 minutes a day. With the applications coming in once a day via the mail, the admissions team could not anticipate its daily workload. Some written applications would also have illegible writing, making it difficult for admissions personnel to enter correct data. By moving the application process online, workflow is delivered in real-time, eliminating the sometimes daunting rush of applications, and data is more accurate. The processing time has also been reduced to only 6 minutes per application. This mostly entails cross-checking information, downloading, and merging of files.

The admissions office would also have to prepare application fees for delivery to the finance department. This meant processing the checks, filling out the deposit forms, and delivering them to the finance department. Online Admissions & Re-Enrollment has taken this process from approximately one hour per batch of payments to only 2-3 minutes per batch.

Online Admissions & Re-Enrolment has benefited the business office significantly, too. The solution has helped reduce the amount of time required to process payments by 50 percent. Manual applications would take 30-60 minutes per batch. Now it only takes 2-10 minutes on non-peak days or 10-30 minutes on peak days. The ability to determine peak application times is another benefit the business office has experienced.

“We know our business better now,” Meeks-Hewes said. “For example, we can see how many parents use Visa®, American Express®, Discover®, or MasterCard®. These are things that the business team wants to know. We have to budget for these fees and having a better understanding of which our constituents prefer and understanding the peak times that applications are submitted helps us budget better and better serve our parents. Additionally, revenue is recognized daily which removes many of the concerns associated with lock box options, NSF fees, and other security concerns with the business and admission office.”

In addition to understanding the business of the school, Blackbaud products have also enabled John Paul II High School to market itself in a way that is representative of who the school is. A technology-focused school like John Paul II needs to have a website that demonstrates this focus and market itself accordingly. Blackbaud NetCommunity™ allows the school to build an online community. The school can easily email accepted students and include interactive features like a video from teachers and students welcoming them to John Paul II High School. These capabilities are essential to not only differentiate the school from competing schools, but it also is indicative to the environment that students, parents, and donors can expect as a part of the John Paul II High School community, Meeks-Hewes mentioned.

“The impact Blackbaud products have had on the school’s operations, community cultivation, marketing, and admissions has been monumental,” Meeks-Hewes said. “Technology is a key component in who we are and Blackbaud’s products give us the ability to live this, both internally and externally. Our motto is ‘seek to serve.’ Blackbaud helps us serve our constituents and customers better than any other vendor.”

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