For once, districts can say, Computer ate my homework : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

For once, districts can say, Computer ate my homework

Saturday, February 05, 2000


The ABCs of education began last month with a Y - as in Y2K.

Thousands of Northeast Ohio students will be getting late report cards because a regional educational system had to be changed to avoid the Y2K threat.

In Medina, report cards should be ready by early next week, making them about 10 days late.

In Avon Lake, report cards will be a few days late because the school districts computers couldnt print out the grades prepared by the regional computer.

In Black River, report cards should be ready by Monday. They could have been handed out on Friday, but all 1,600 cards listed the name of a Wellington truck driver as superintendent even though the truck driver had no connection to the district. The school district sent them back to be reprinted.

"Were all pulling our hair out," said Medina High School Principal Linda Ocepek. "This is the latest report cards have come out."

The culprit for the frustration of school officials, parents and guidance counselors is new computer software that replaced last years Y2K-plagued programs.

James Sheets, an assistant Lorain County superintendent and director of the Lake Erie Education Computer Association (LEECA), said the regional center began installing the new program in July, although it continued to run the old program until Dec. 31.

The January report cards were the first big challenge, he said.

The center in Lorain serves about 90,000 students attending schools in western Cuyahoga County, Lorain County, most of Medina County, Erie County and Huron County.

Besides compiling and processing report cards, LEECAs mainframe computer handles budgetary matters, attendance, payroll, inter-library functions and Internet connections for the districts. LEECA is one of 23 such centers in Ohio, but one of only a couple that had Y2K problems.

Sheets said some school buildings served by the center had problems adjusting to the new software.

Officials in several districts admitted to being terribly frustrated by the changes, but praised Sheets staff for their work and patience.


"Their people are not kicking back and drinking coffee," said Michael Swank, the principal of Avon Lake High School. He said report cards were supposed to have been mailed to about 1,000 high school students yesterday, but were delayed when the districts computers couldnt print them. The computer center in Lorain will print Avon Lakes report cards on its machines, and they will be mailed on Monday.

Interim Black River Superintendent Charles Hawley called the conversion process "horrendous," but said he thought it would get better.

Hawley said it would have been all right if the report cards had carried his name or that of his predecessor, James Cahoon. But the name of a truck driver just wouldnt do, he said.

Medinas Ocepek said the delays were causing all kinds of problems. For instance, Athletic Director Michael Davanzo must go through the records of high school athletes by hand to make sure they have maintained their academic eligibility for sports.Colleges seeking midterm transcripts of college-bound seniors have been put on hold.

"No question. This is a pain, and it came in the most inopportune time," Ocepek said. "But we have to live with it."

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)2000 THE PLAIN DEALER. Used with permission.

-- Carl Jenkins (, February 05, 2000

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