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School Computer System On Sabbatical

In the midst of its busiest summer in memory, DCPS is shutting down its main computer system for three weeks, starting tomorrow.

Erin McGoldrick, Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's data chief, said the system, called D.C. Stars, is routinely taken off line in the summer for maintenance and upgrades. Last year, she said, it was down for two weeks. But with concerns about declining enrollment, dozens of schools undergoing extensive renovation, others facing staff and program changes mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind law and a new labor contract being hammered out, this is no routine summer for DCPS. It's made some officials a tad anxious.

Then there's D.C. Stars itself, which has had a less than stellar history. Installed at a cost of $10 million in 2005 to bring the school system's handling of information on basics such as attendance, grades and graduation rates into the 21st century, it was plagued by early glitches. Some students were assigned courses they'd already taken, others got no schedules at all.

McGoldrick said that D.C. Stars' early problems "had to do with humans, not the system," and that it has been performing well. The upgrades will allow the replacement of old software that is expensive to maintain, and will eventually enable high school parents to access grades and attendance information.

Bill Turque

By Bill Turque  |  July 2, 2008; 11:45 AM ET
Categories:  Education  
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