College, public schools lag in Y2K preparations : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

-- Linkmeister (, August 06, 1999


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Posted at 1:12 a.m. PDT Thursday, August 5, 1999

Colleges, public schools lag in Y2K preparations Cox News Service

WASHINGTON -- Nearly 40 percent of colleges and 30 percent of school districts in the United States admit they won't finish protecting essential computer systems against the Y2K bug by Oct. 1, according to a U.S. Department of Education survey.

``I'm concerned, because that doesn't leave a lot of time for them to correct their mission-critical systems this year if they fall behind schedule,'' said Bob Davidson, chief of the department's Year 2000 project team.

The Y2K bug is a software flaw that can cause some older computers and electronic equipment to misread the date 2000 as 1900, potentially causing them to misfunction.

So far, only about 30 percent of colleges and school districts say that all key systems are Y2K-compliant, according to the Education Department survey, which promised confidentiality in order to encourage candid responses.

``It's good news that 99 percent say they will be ready by the turn of the year,'' Davidson said. ``At the same time,'' he added, ``it's right to call attention to the large number of educational institutions that are behind the pace set in other fields.''

Some schools will face the first real-world test of their Y2K bug protections as early as Sept. 9, when some older computer programs will interpret 9-9-99 to mean ``date is unknown.''

But the primary concern of most educators is the potential disruption in January. Critical systems help conduct such activities as cooling or heating buildings, registration and preparation of class and bus schedules, report cards, transcripts and payrolls.

Many schools also may have an additional burden on New Year's Day: use as emergency shelters if a Y2K emergency interrupts their community's supply of water, electricity or fuel.

So far, 38 percent of colleges and 76 percent of school districts admit that they haven't completed a contingency plan that spells out what they will do if faced by the failure of their own systems or systems beyond their control.

``I think lack of money is less of an issue than lack of organizational will power or organizational urgency,'' said Michael Casserley, executive director of the Council of Great City Schools.

Some schools are quite far along, he pointed out. For example, some have adjusted their schedules to allow only staff and faculty in their schools for the first three or four days of next year, so that they can test all systems for safety and reliability before the children come back.

Others have purchased generators or battery backups for their computers or hallway lights, or arranged to either drain or pour antifreeze into their non-drinking water systems on New Year's Eve.

Last February, the Department of Education mailed a copy of the council's Y2K compliance guide, ``Squashing the Millennium Bug,'' to each of the nation's 15,000 school districts. The guide is also available on the Internet (

The department's Y2K survey had a margin of error of less than 3 percent. It was answered by districts and schools that serve 38 percent of the nation's 45 million elementary and secondary students, and by 35 percent of the nation's 5,900 colleges and universities.

Asked when their ``mission critical systems'' would be Y2K compliant (safe from damage by the Y2K bug), school districts and colleges replied:

-- They already comply. (districts, 28 percent; colleges, 30 percent)

-- They will comply by Oct. 1. (districts, 72 percent; colleges, 60 percent)

-- They will comply by Jan. 1. (districts, 98 percent; colleges, 99 percent)

-- They will miss the Jan. 1 deadline. (districts, 2 percent; colleges, 1 percent)

Asked how far along they are on the recommended five-step process for protecting essential and non-essential systems from the Y2K bug, school districts and colleges replied:

-- Completed none of the steps. (districts, 23 percent; colleges, 20 percent)

-- Completed step 1, identify all problems and assign someone to deal with them. (districts, 77 percent; colleges 80 percent)

-- Completed step 2, assess solutions. (districts, 44 percent; colleges 63 percent)

-- Completed step 3, fix or replace problem systems. (districts, 20 percent; colleges, 28 percent)

-- Completed step 4, test and validate changes. (districts, 16 percent; colleges, 21 percent)

-- Completed step 5, use the revised or new system. (districts, 14 percent; colleges 18 percent)


-- Linkmeister (, August 06, 1999.

I still think that Cincinnati schools will be the first big city school system to announce a longer than normal vacation period, due to y2k. if they don't , i bet most people will say they're keeping their kids at home anyway....

-- The artist formerly known as SuperLurker (, August 06, 1999.

Hmmmm...well that doesn't look too good there. I just registered for several courses at the local college. I also took out a loan for 2000.00 along with some grants. Hope that wasn't a waste of time.

-- Shellie (, August 06, 1999.

Waco Independent School District has announced that they expect problems to be "minor", such as that their voicemail system won't work, nor will their automatic heating and cooling systems.

Seems to me if they plan to use schools for shelters this doesn't bode too well...

-- mommacares (, August 06, 1999.

I read this article in our local "news" paper. Y'know, when that wicked ice storm hit Jan '98 (Northeast paralyzed forever, etc...) the schools were the first place on the list for contingency shelters. I wonder if anyone in the many local governments who are just now starting to formulate plans will remember to ensure that the public schools they're planning to use as shelters will actually have heat and running water.

Just a thought.

-- Arewyn (, August 08, 1999.

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Education Secretary Sends Letter to University Heads About Y2K Concerns

Education Secretary Sends Letter to University Heads About Y2K Concerns

August 6, 1999

U.S. Education Secretary Richard Riley sent a letter on Thursday to the nation's college and university presidents and chancellors expressing his concern that many of the institutions are not yet Year 2000-compliant.

The letter noted a recent report by Education's inspector general that identified postsecondary institutions as the only "high-risk" component of the student aid delivery partnership. According to the department, Education's systems are Year 2000-ready. Riley cited a recent department survey probing the Year 2000 readiness of postsecondary institutions and was alarmed at the low response rate -- 32 percent -- and even more worried about the findings.

Only 30 percent of respondents have all mission-critical systems ready, the survey showed. The survey indicated that 60 percent expect to be compliant by Oct. 1. More than 60 percent of respondents had completed the awareness and assessment phases for their systems, but less than 20 percent had reached the implementation phase.

Perhaps the most alarming finding, according to Riley, was that only 22 of the 5,800 U.S. institutions participating in student aid programs had successfully tested a data exchange with Education's systems. The department's IG has recommended that data exchange testing become a requirement rather than simply encouraged. Riley is considering that suggestion.

All of a university's critical data systems are vulnerable to Year 2000 problems, including basic infrastructure, payroll, accounting, personnel, academic research and libraries, Riley said. He encouraged schools to take advantage of Education's Year 2000 resources, including World Wide Web sites and a contingency planning and Year 2000 readiness planning kit.

Riley will send a follow-up survey to the university and college leaders later this month and is hoping for an improved response rate and significant progress.

-- Dan Caterinicchia (
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-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, August 08, 1999.

From: Y2K, ` la Carte by Dancr near Monterey, California

It wouldn't surprise me, if schools were assessed by an independent party, to find that the few schools that already realize that they're not going to make it (1-2%) are actually the furthest along of any of them.

-- Dancr (addy.available@my.webpage.neener.autospammers--regrets.greenspun), August 09, 1999.

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