MAISD computer passes Y2k, but won't restart (computer snafu) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


MAISD computer passes Y2K test, but won't restart

Tuesday, December 7, 1999

By Teresa Taylor Williams CHRONICLE STAFF WRITER

Computer repair workers have been "camped out" at the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District the last few days trying to resuscitate a computer system after it passed a recent "Y2K bug" test but failed to restart.

The problem is in the payroll system, and district officials are trying to make sure area teachers and staff get paid this week.

Programmers at MAISD took the computer system down Friday for a test to make sure the accounting and payroll programs were ready for Y2K.

The end of the year has raised concerns that some computers will not function properly on Jan. 1 because of a problem known as the "Y2K bug." Older computers may not recognize the last two digits of 2000 as the new year, but may read it as 1900.

Businesses, utility companies and government agencies in the U.S. have spent an estimated $100 billion in advance of the new year to keep computers from crashing, and most experts believe problems will be minimal.

Various functions of the accounting system were tested, and results indicated it was "absolutely (Y2K) compliant, as we knew it would be," said Rosemary Cary, director of the regional technology center at the MAISD.

But the operation failure occurred when they tried to bring the system back up.

"We began reloading the system from backup tapes late Friday, and that's when we had the operating system failure. We weren't even aware there was a problem until midday Saturday," said Cary.

"Since then we've been stomping out fires, trying to explore why this is occurring," she said.

During the past five years, MAISD technology experts have changed hardware and converted software of its network, which reaches 34 school districts in Muskegon and six other counties.

Because they had to rewrite the software, some area school districts are experiencing frustration as school officials try to smooth out the rough spots.

"Whenever you go through a major software conversion, frustration levels are high. They already have full time jobs, they don't need more work," Cary said. "We're working as fast as we can and as smart as we know how. We've got a wonderful staff literally camping out here."

This morning marked day four of the downed computer system. There are constant phone calls to IBM, nine computers on loan from local paper mill Sappi Fine Paper Co. and representatives from three school districts were working on payroll at the MAISD.

The system is expected to be back up and running later today. But if it isn't, MAISD officials say they will do everything within their power to keep school district payrolls on schedule.

"We've got people working knee-deep in payroll," said Cary. "We're communicating with our customers hourly via e-mail and on the phone. We're prepared to do whatever we need to so payrolls get out this week."

-- Homer Beanfang (, December 07, 1999


The bell tolls for thee

-- and (me@and.we), December 07, 1999.

One is reminded of the saying, "The operation was successful, but the patient died."

-- King of Spain (madrid@aol.cum), December 07, 1999.

Yep - It's starting.......

But - The only failures you see now are in those systems who owners are at least trying to remediate, then to "test" for compliance.....and then release the fact that their test failed, THEN have the press cover it, and THEN have the press publicize the result nationally.

This leaves many hundred thousand who have not completed of of these steps. And many more who have done nothing.....the ones who have are really going to be surprised are

Now -

Sir Homerrun of the Beaner,

Can you start a thread (in the government section) that links these most recent government/school/local agency failures: We've seen Detroit, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Oakland, San Francisco (I think), Denver (?), Oakland and others fail in payroll, in accounting, in pensions,....

In just the past few days, I remember stories about local government failures in this school district in Muskegon, Florida DMV, Tennesee DMV/FBI files link, Arizona DMV, ...but how many others?

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (, December 07, 1999.

"This morning marks day four"...

Alert, alert... call John Koskinen... time overrun.

So.... what's the record for how long a 3-day storm can last?

-- Linda (, December 07, 1999.

I remember something about fixing these things in, oh, two or three hours. But then, I remember something about a year for testing, too.

-- bw (home@puget.sound), December 07, 1999.


Monday, December 6, 1999

By Teresa Taylor Williams CHRONICLE STAFF WRITER

The Muskegon Area Intermediate School District has spent the last five years preparing for the Y2K computer "bug," including building a whole new computer system.

But switching to the new system has created headaches for officials of some local school districts, which rely on the MAISD's computers for keeping and processing student, payroll and financial records.

Local school officials say their problem isn't with the Y2K "bug" - they think the system is ready for the new millennium - but with the way MAISD prepared for it.

They say the computer changeover, in some cases, has resulted in records not being entered in the system correctly, or not being readily retrievable once they are entered. In at least one case, that has forced school officials to search through records one at a time - an arduous process.

"It has absolutely nothing to do with our staff," said Terry Babbitt, interim superintendent of Mona Shores Public Schools. "It's an ISD issue. They have, in a sense, bitten off more than they can chew."

Says Michael Bozym, MAISD superintendent: "We're discovering that, in adapting local applications to their software, some districts are having trouble. We're struggling as much as possible to identify those problems, working with (the districts) individually.

With the MAISD's massive record-keeping responsibilities - including monitoring records of 60,000 students and about 12,000 payroll checks - the organization has to take its time to make sure the system is accurate, officials of the organization said.

"No payroll has been missed," he said. "We have a very competent staff of programmers, the best in the business."

The MAISD serves 36 public, nonpublic and parochial schools and districts throughout Muskegon County.

Bozym says the MAISD's computers are ready for 2000. The approaching end of the year has raised concerns that some computers will not function properly on Jan. 1 because of a problem known as the "Y2K bug." Older computers may not recognize the last two digits of 2000 as the new year, but may read it instead as 1900.

Businesses, utility companies and government agencies nationwide have spent an estimated $100 billion in advance of the new year to keep computers from crashing, and most experts believe problems will be minimal.

The IBM system the MAISD used was not Y2K-compatible, Bozym said, so they replaced that system. And, in the last five years, the MAISD staff of programmers customized their own software - all 650,000 lines of data.

North Muskegon was one of the first school districts brought onto the new system this year. North Muskegon Business Manager Anne Reinecke said at first there were bookkeeping problems, where debits and credits were not entered in the system correctly. But they've received quick trouble-shooting from programmers at the MAISD, she said.

"Bugs are to be expected when working with a new system," said Judith Hayner, assistant superintendent for administration for Muskegon Public Schools. "There are goofy things out there we won't be able to predict, but we are confident in the ISD making the switch."

Mona Shores officials said they are experiencing painfully slow progress with the Y2K upgrade, particularly keeping accurate employee accounting records.

The problems are "understandable, but have slowed us down considerably," said Michael Schluentz, Mona Shores' director of finance. "It's been an arduous process amending our budget this year."

For example, each teacher is assigned an account number, but the MAISD's new computer system hasn't quite perfected how to track them.

"We've had to manually go through hiring and retirement records one account at a time - who retired, who was hired, who left what building and when," said Schluentz.

There must be an immense amount of pressure managing so many schools' records, let alone under the additional burden of Y2K, said Dean Van Zegeren, assistant superintendent of finance and operations for Reeths-Puffer Public Schools.

"The MAISD has obviously been very challenged, but they've been trouble-shooting the system as quickly as possible," said Van Zegeren. "They've had plenty of challenges and frustrations, but I think they've done their very best."


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