The Houston Chronicle front-paged a story on the Houston school board getting a briefing Thursday on just how bad the district's new computer system is, with the assessment being "pretty fucking bad."
District employees reported teachers swamped by hassles recording grades, schedules messed up in the beginning of the year, dogs and cats sleeping together, Armageddon looming, etc. etc.
We had heard of problems with the system back when school opened. We checked with HISD spokesman Terry Abbott, who said there indeed had been some slight hiccups along the way. The people who had complained to us verified that things were slowly getting worked out, so we moved on to other things and didn't write about it. (The problem with recording grades hadn't really surfaced yet.)
Now, $600,000 of HISD overtime later, it's obvious that things didn't exactly proceed as smoothly as predicted.
But, just for laughs, here's the correspondence from HISD spokesman Terry Abbott, who of course is the only district person authorized to talk to the Press (every other HISD employee can't talk to us unless they get his permission first), and who only communicates with us via e-mail.
From us, on September 20:
We've been getting several reports from parents that the implementation of a new computer system at HISD (I believe district-wide, but maybe at only some schools) has been creating a lot of problems.
I've heard specifically about schools like Bellaire and TH Rogers, but I'm told others too suffered from both mis-scheduling students (i.e., putting 100+ in one English class and 3 in the same class, different period) and in getting those mistakes straightened out. Parents of Bellaire students, for instance, had to scramble on a Saturday to get their kids in the right classes.
Were there more computer problems this year than other years? If so, were the problems caused by HISD employees or was it a problem with the system itself?
And what are the details on the new system -- is it districtwide, does it handle tasks other than scheduling?
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From Abbott, that same day:
We've just installed a brand new, district wide student information system. It replaces the old legacy system we had. The issues that we've had have been what you would expect with a new districtwide system -- people getting familiar with how to operate it, the new reports it will produce, etc. But we started school with more than 190,000 students with schedules already in hand, so there haven't been tremendous districtwide scheduling problems. Here are some specific points about the system:
[He then went on to list the myriad glories of the new $18 million system.]
"The issues that we had have been what you would expect with a new districtwide system..."
HISD: Setting the expectations bar as high as ever. -- Richard Connelly