February 3, 2010

Computer dysfunction

It is certainly no secret that this week is one of the busiest in the school year, with HS and MS administrators trying to set up new classes and make register adjustments.

During this crucial period, every programmer, teacher, guidance counselor, AP and principal relies on STARS and the school's computers to do what they're supposed to be doing: manage schedules, registers, and student data.

Yet, they're not. Again.

Or still — because I wrote about the problems schools were having with their data management systems way back in October.

A letter sent to the school techies yesterday, the first day of the spring term and several days after all that programming and planning had to have taken place, reads like this:
We are experiencing unusual slowness on the web pages of the STARS application today (as well as yesterday). We have been working with the web administrators to monitor the servers and network to determine if there are any issues.

To date, the high number of people using the system appears to be the primary reason for the slowness. The web administrators are preparing to add additional servers tonight to help handle the load. These will be added at the end of the day as the process will require that the system be brought down for a short time (you will receive more information later today as to time). They are also monitoring all of the servers being used and will correct any server that does not appear to be running as efficiently as expected. Until that time, the following steps can be taken to help us get through this busy time . . .

[blah, blah, blah......]

We do anticipate that this week will see higher than normal usage of the system. If we can limit the number of people using the system and keep updates and reporting to essential functions, we should all be able to get the work required completed.
It's not that I can't wrap my head around an occasional computer snafu, but something is seriously wrong when the DoE can't plan for high usage at this time of year.

A citywide failure of this kind is incomprehensible to me — especially when a billionaire mayor twists laws and lawmakers around his pinkies claiming that accountability, data collection and computer systems are a panacea for all the woes of mankind.

Incompetence does come to mind, but wasted tax dollars even more.

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