More money needed to fix faulty student records system in L.A. Unified

Fourteen companies are on call to help fix the balky L.A. Unified student records

Los Angeles needs to spend at least $11 million more to deal with problems caused by a new and faulty student records system, officials will tell the school board this week.

The spending request, which the board will take up on Tuesday, is the latest financial blow related to the records system and a clear indication that it’s far from fixed.

“The system continues to have performance issues and new bugs are opened on a daily basis,” according to a staff report for Tuesday’s meeting. “The system, as it stands today, does not meet the needs of our schools.”

The additional money would provide more resources for the district to spend with any of 13 companies, including Microsoft, that are on call to help. A fourteenth company would be added to the list, if the spending measure is approved as requested.

Altogether the district has burned through more than $130 million trying to develop a fully functional student records system. The new system is called My Integrated Student Information System, or MISIS.

It caused problems districtwide this fall, with thousands of students unable to get classes they needed for graduation or college requirements. In many instances, attendance accounting was faulty, grade information was lost and correct information became corrupted.

The latest funding would come out of voter-approved school construction bonds.

Separately, officials also are asking for $170,000 in additional dollars to extend the work of a private company, B Virtual, that has been answering phones on a MISIS help line.

“The additional agents field phone calls quickly, provide immediate answers to questions when possible, and document support requests for follow-up as appropriate,” according to an internal report. “Without ratification of this contract, the overflow support would be stopped, and wait times for urgently-needed customer support would increase exponentially. The time users spend waiting on the telephone for support detracts from time spent in the classroom.”

The money is expected to cover nine months of work, through next June. The general fund would cover this contract.

Since the end of September, the company has been fielding more than half the calls for help from teachers, counselors and other district employees, according to data provided to the school board.

Calls for help with MISIS peaked at more than 500 a day during parts of November.

The average wait time to receive help was more than 70 minutes during parts of July and September. B Virtual was much faster at responding than district staff.

The maximum waiting time was nearly three hours at one point in August. More recently it was 20 minutes.

Calls that teachers and others gave up on before getting help peaked at more than 500 a day in both July and September. More recently 30 to 150 were giving up per day.

Twitter: @howardblume

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