Deasy says the person he will hire will report directly to him and will not require board approval. When does it all end?
August 21, 2014 4:31 pm :: As LA Unified teachers continue their complaints about the district’s new student data management program, MiSiS, Superintendent John Deasy said today he plans to hire an independent liaison to keep him informed of corrective actions.
<<Superintendent John Deasy
“This is not my area of expertise so I have to be sure, when I think something is not optimal, that I have my own person working on this to tell me if we are doing this smartly,” Deasy told LA School Report. “I want a third party who is knowledgeable about changing student informations systems, to give insight into are we making enough changes, are we making our changes correctly.”
Deasy said the person he will hire — within a week or so — will report directly to him and will not require board approval. He also said he intends to meet next week with a new court-appointed monitor charged with overseeing the development of a district-wide student tracking system. The previous person serving in that role died.
Since 2012, the person directly in charge of MiSiS is Bria Jones, according to Bria Jones. On her LinkedIn profile, she identifies herself as head of a small Arizona company hired by the district as “IT Project Director.” She claims she “Provide[s] day-to-day project direction and management of the MiSiS team.”
How she came to the district as the only candidate for the job was among questions that board member Tamar Galatzan included last week in a written request to Ken Bramlett, the district’s Inspector General, seeking an examination of the MiSiS program.
Efforts to reach Jones through the district and her LinkedIn account drew no response.
In an eight-minute telephone interview today about Jones’s role in the MiSiS launch and subsequent problems, Chief Information Officer Ron Chandler told LA School Report that “there are several project managers on the project…her role is to oversee different parts of the development of specifications and code development.”
Chandler confirmed that Jones is involved in district’s efforts to fix glitches in the program that have left thousands of LA Unified students without school or class assignments and access to other school services. District officials say “99 percent” of students are unaffected by the problems.
“She’s leading part of the team and she’s done a great job,” Chandler said, but he declined to identify others among the “several” involved.
A spokeswoman who was on the call cut it short, saying Chandler had to leave to attend a meeting.
Jones was recommended to oversee the MiSiS project at an annual salary of $280,800 after district officials determined there were no other viable experts to handle the complexities of the program, according to a district procurement official, George Silva.
Silva told LA School Report that Chandler’s office sought multiple candidates for the position, and finding no others to meet the complexity and urgency of the project, solicited opinions from experts in the IT field, and that led the district to Jones.
“You can’t run a project of that complexity without the right manager,” he said, adding that sole-source contracting, while rare, is sometimes required when the needs are specific.
The district Inspector General’s Annual report to the board for the 2013 fiscal year, wrote that Jones’s proposed rate of $135 per hour as Project Manager “is not supported and not reasonable.” It recommended that the procurement office justify why it should award a single-source contract to Jones’s company “without competitive procurement, which is normally required for a professional services contract of this size.”
At the time, school board president Richard Vladovic was alone in raising concerns over the deal.
In her LinkedIn profile, Jones describes herself as someone who is “known for transformational leadership, cutting-edge technology deployments, business enablement services, company strategy optimization, and business benefits realization.” She boasted that her contributions to the MiSiS project include “restoring trust in the project outcomes and on-time deliveries.”
Her self-evaluation notwithstanding, the MiSiS project has caused any number of problems for teachers and principals across the district, drawing particular fire from the teachers union, UTLA, which prompted Galatzan to ask the Inspector General to examine why the system was launched despite its flaws.
“I demand to know what happened and how this got so messed up,” she told LA School Report last week. “Because until it happened, the board had no inkling that the system wasn’t ready to go live.”
Jones has had a long career in IT, based on information she included on LinkedIn. She has worked on projects in a variety of industries including insurance, pharmacy, video rentals and education. She says: “She tackles thorny project issues and shows IT professionals how to motivate their teams toward new levels of achievement.”
Yet her work for LA Unified has not played out perhaps as smoothly as with previous clients.
MiSiS is an extension of previous computer programs used by schools to track student information. As the latest iteration, it is more complex than its predecessors, requiring more understanding and training for users.
Within six months of Jones’s hiring, problems were apparent, according to contemporary notes of a working committee that oversaw the project development. They were given to LA School Report unsolicited.
The notes show that in a series of meetings over the next six months that included the principals union, AALA; the teachers union and the district, various logistical, technical and financial were cited for disrupting a smooth development schedule.
Another document included in the notes, an AALA Update in March of this year, included the headline, “ADMINISTRATORS APPREHENSIVE ABOUT MiSiS PROJECT.” It referred to a February letter from AALA President Judith Perez and AALA Administrator Dan Isaacs to Chandler, warning that the software for MiSiS “is not ready for rollout and that we are at high risk of a failed implementation . . .”
They further said AALA members “felt that in a rush to meet deadlines, insufficient attention was given to the functionality that end users require.”
The letter also expressed concern that the MiSiS project had “become shrouded in secrecy.”
Chandler wrote back a month later, according to the AALA Update, which was in the notes, and apologized for any perception of exclusivity and assured the AALA officers that budgets and timelines are being met.
As manager of the project, Jones noted in her profile that in the first two years that she contributed to “maximizing the orchestration of team resources,” to “promoting persistence and project discipline” and to “coaching and mentoring Technical Project Managers by giving constant feedback and advice.”
The feedback she might not have contemplated is the criticism from teachers and officials who say they are still struggling to get the new system up and running.
“Deasy said the person he will hire — within a week or so — will report directly to him and will not require board approval.” When does this all end? No superintendent is an independent entity, operating outside the control, oversight, direction or approval of the board of education. The superintendent is their employee and he shouldn’t be able to spend a dollar on a package of paper clips without accounting for it to the elected trustees.
Who is going to pay for Dr. Deasy’s “liason”? The MiSiS program is paid for from bond funds – will this supplimental oversight be paid for with bond funds? I have a certain level of expertise on this – and I have a decided opinion – and both are that the superintendent can’t spend money or hire folks without going through the process of securing board approval subject to the advice of the bond oversight committee.
When does it all end? >
As it is the Inspector General is investigating MiSiS – and I am pretty sure the IG’s investigation or audit (I’m not sure which – audits measure how the process is being followed, investigations measure how the law is being followed) is being paid for with bond funds. Of course, the IG reports to the board of ed and not the supe – I can see why Dr. D. may not feel all warm+fuzzy about that. Especially as there are folks out there who say the ultimate responsibility for the MiSiS missteps is Deasy’s.
A “Credible District Insider” writes 4LAKids, requesting anonymity out of self protection:
“I expect that you saw the editorial at the top of Thursday's AALA Update.”
(smf: The editorial was published in the Aug 24 4LAKids Newsletter under the title: VOICES FROM THE FIELD: THE MiSiS CRISIS | http://bit.ly/1tKo33m)
“The MiSiS mess is not another example of how LAUSD cannot do anything right. AALA organized a series of eight meetings - 22 total hours - to discuss concerns about ISIS/MiSiS with LAUSD. Participants were APSCSs and SIS Coordinators (UTLA members) - people who really know what's necessary to operate a school. LAUSD sent high level representatives both from ITD and administration. Matt Hill attended the last few meetings. Detailed summaries were published in AALA Update after each meeting (these are attached). LAUSD was warned, repeatedly and in compelling detail. That's a smoking gun.
“The AALA editorial demands accountability for whoever gave the green light to implement software that was (and is) nowhere near ready. That's Matt Hill and John Deasy. They're responsible for secondary schools being in chaos.”
▼FOLLOWING IS THE RECORD FROM THE AALA UPDATE NEWSLETTER OF THE MEETINGS DESCRIBED ABOVE:
AALA thanks Alan Warhaftig for providing this summary of the meeting.
On December 10, 2012, Dr. Judith Perez, AALA President, convened a three-hour
“Working Committee” meeting with Ron Chandler, LAUSD Chief Information Officer,
to discuss the status of the Integrated Student Information System (ISIS). The meeting
was convened due to increasing complaints from users and concern that there had not
been a meeting of the ISIS Stakeholders Group since May. Also attending the meeting
were Dan Isaacs, AALA; Eric Davidson, Margaret Prieto and Dan Blank, school-site
administrators; Kevin Kilpatrick, Office of Data Accountability; Marvin Cruz,
ITD; Robert Storaker and Jay Gehringer, school site coordinators; Dr. Brian Muller,
UTLA; and Alan Warhaftig, AALA.
Agreement to implement ISIS was part of the Modified Consent Decree. In 2003, the
Board appropriated $107.2 million for ISIS, including a $38.3 million software
development contract for SchoolMax. ISIS has also been supported by other budgets.
Schools have also had to bear significant costs. Severely depleted clerical staffs have had
to manually enter SIS parent contact information into ISIS so that it can be transferred to
the Connect Ed notification system. Schools must also provide paper and toner to print
roll sheets from ISIS, which is substantially more expensive than using the blue and
green pages of the secondary “computer” roll book. The unfortunate decision to
discontinue these roll book components should be revisited.
Implementation of Phase 2 of ISIS in secondary schools is currently seven and a half
years behind schedule. Mr. Chandler informed the committee that the relationship with
Harris, the vendor of the SchoolMax software, has deteriorated. LAUSD will continue to
use SchoolMax and pay Harris $72,000 a month for software maintenance, while new
ISIS modules are being developed utilizing Microsoft’s Atlas, software currently used by
Fresno Unified. The plan is to eventually replace existing ISIS modules, including the
poorly functioning Gradebook, with equivalent modules from Atlas. According to Mr.
Chandler, the Gradebook replacement could be implemented within a year.
In effect, LAUSD plans to walk away from its investment in the SchoolMax software and
replace it with software that is hopefully much better. Concern was expressed about
whether Atlas can be adapted to the needs of LAUSD, which is ten times larger than
The February 2012, ISIS Budget showed that at the end of June 2013, there will be an
unencumbered balance of approximately $13.1 million. Mr. Chandler said that ISIS has
sufficient resources, though concern was expressed about whether ITD can continue
operations, switch software platforms and complete ISIS within the existing budget. If
ITD eventually requests additional funds for ISIS, hope was expressed that the funding
request will include measures to relieve the burden on schools and their clerical staffs.
Pending approval by the Independent Monitor, elementary Phase 2 implementation will
likely be postponed from February 2013, until the fall. Implementation of secondary
Phase 2 is still scheduled for Fall 2013, but stay tuned, as ISIS deadlines have changed
The discussion with Mr. Chandler was very constructive, and the Working Committee is
scheduled to meet again on January 28, 2013.
On January 28, 2013, Dr. Judith Perez, AALA President, convened the second three-
hour “Working Committee” meeting with Ron Chandler, LAUSD Chief Information
Officer, to discuss the status of the Integrated Student Information System (ISIS). The
meeting was a follow-up to the initial Working Committee Meeting on December 10,
2012. Also attending the meeting were Dan Isaacs, AALA; Michelle King, Senior
Deputy Superintendent; Earl Perkins, Assistant Superintendent, and Walter Flores,
from School Operations; Eric Davidson, Margaret Prietto, Bernadette
Lucas, and Eugene Hernandez, school-site administrators; Kevin Kilpatrick, Office of
Data Accountability; Marvin Cruz, Dr. Bria Jones and Jen Kessler, ITD; Robert
Storaker and Jay Gehringer, school-site coordinators; Dr. Brian Muller, UTLA;
and Alan Warhaftig, AALA.
Mr. Chandler updated the committee on developments since the December 10 meeting.
Proposed changes to the ISIS software received conditional approval from the Office of
the Independent Monitor. No additional SchoolMax modules will be implemented,
though LAUSD is obligated to pay Constellation Software, Inc., a $72,000 monthly
software maintenance fee as long as the SchoolMax software is utilized.
New modules, and replacements for existing modules, including the ISIS Gradebook and
Parent Module, will be based on ATLAS, a web-based student information system
developed by Fresno Unified School District. ATLAS is built upon several Windows-
based software tools (.net, Sharepoint, Silverlight and Microsoft Reporting Services) for
which LAUSD already owns an enterprise license. Fresno Unified donated ATLAS to
LAUSD, and District staff is developing new and replacement modules for ISIS working
closely with engineers from Microsoft. The new ATLAS Gradebook, originally written in
Silverlight, has been rewritten by LAUSD in HTML5 and may be available as soon as
The Independent Monitor also conditionally approved changes to the implementation
timeline. Elementary Phase 2 will likely be postponed until fall 2013 and secondary
phase 2 will likely move from fall 2013 to February 2014 – approximately eight and one-
quarter years behind schedule.
Concerns were raised about the specific needs of end users, including magnet
coordinators, athletic directors and counselors who need digital transcripts for college
application school reports and out of classroom personnel working on accreditation or
trying to identify students with attendance issues but who are not marked absent every
period. Mr. Chandler promised that end users will have direct and meaningful input in
design of the new ATLAS modules – and not merely be invited to participate in pilots
after it’s too late to suggest changes, which has often been the past practice. For future
information technology systems, Mr. Chandler was urged to seek meaningful input from
end users early in the procurement process well before the RFP is finalized.
Mr. Chandler also informed the committee that, in December, LAUSD lost its arbitration
and must pay Constellation Software, Inc., approximately $10 million. LAUSD must
decide whether to appeal the arbitrator’s decision, which would involve substantial legal
fees. Mr. Chandler promised more budget details at the next meeting of the Working
Group, but with the $10 million arbitration settlement encumbered, it appears that ISIS
has pretty much exhausted the $107.2 million the LAUSD Board appropriated in 2003.
It’s unclear how the new development work based on ATLAS, as well as ongoing project
expenses (including the $72,000 monthly fee to Constellation), will be funded.
Concerns were also raised about training as new modules are implemented and that ISIS
not additionally burden school clerical staffs. A specific concern was expressed about
printing and mailing of fall semester final report cards. If distribution is to occur in
December without losing a day or two of instruction, this time-consuming task must be
done when school staffs are on winter break. Couldn’t printing and distribution of report
cards be done – more efficiently and less expensively – centrally?
On February 25, 2013, Dan Isaacs, AALA Administrator, convened the third three-hour
“Working Committee” meeting with Ron Chandler, LAUSD Chief Information Officer,
to discuss the status of the Integrated Student Information System (ISIS). Also attending
the meeting were Walter Flores from School Operations; Dan Blank, Yvett Landeros,
Margaret Prieto, Bernadette Lucas, and Eugene Hernandez, school-site
administrators; Kevin Kilpatrick, Office of Data Accountability; Marvin Cruz, Dr.
Bria Jones and Jen Kessler, ITD; Robert Storaker and Jay Gehringer, school site
coordinators; Dr. Brian Muller, UTLA; and Alan Warhaftig, AALA.
While a detailed discussion of the ISIS budget was agendized for the meeting, Mr.
Chandler declined to discuss it in detail, as a review of the ISIS budget, which will
presumably result in an augmentation, is currently underway. Concern was expressed,
having already spent more than $100 million on ISIS/SchoolMax, that LAUSD not
embark on another costly IT adventure. Dollars spent on ISIS are unavailable for other
Mr. Chandler clarified that LAUSD has a three-year enterprise license for the Microsoft
software on which ATLAS, the replacement for ISIS, is built, and that Fresno Unified
School District will not be compensated financially; instead, Fresno Unified will have
free use of the software LAUSD develops.
Members of the Working Group emphasized that schools cannot afford to bear the costs,
in both money and time, to support ISIS – especially if processes and purchasing can be
centralized. Pressure sealers for report cards were cited as an example. The machines
cost $4,400, including tax and delivery, and the annual maintenance contract is $595.
Clearly, printing and mailing of report cards, for schools that don’t want to do it
themselves, could be done centrally at lower cost. LAUSD could also arrange a district-
wide maintenance contract instead of having schools pay individually.
Mr. Chandler shared the latest Proposed Rollout Schedule. New ATLAS elementary
modules are scheduled for July/August, 2013 followed by the ATLAS Parent Module in
Summer/Fall, 2013. New secondary modules, including replacement of current
SchoolMax modules (Attendance. Grades, Counseling, Discipline, Gradebook, etc.), are
scheduled for July/August, 2014. If all goes well, the legacy SIS system will be
decommissioned in December, 2014.
The Counseling and Discipline modules will continue to be used until they are replaced.
Considerable displeasure with these modules was expressed, particularly the Discipline
Module, in which available choices tend to require users to characterize student behaviors
as more serious than incidents warrant. Is the purpose of a Discipline module to gather
data or promote student development? The consensus was that it must do both.
LAUSD is obligated to pay Constellation Software, Inc. a $72,000 monthly software
maintenance fee as long as any part of the SchoolMax software is utilized. Apparently,
there are interfaces that will need to be replaced even after the modules themselves have
been replaced with their ATLAS equivalents. It is unclear when LAUSD will be able to
discontinue the monthly payments to Constellation, but ending the payments should be a
Mr. Chandler and Dr. Jones demonstrated the new ATLAS Attendance Module and
received comments on the interface from the Working Group, which noted that the
attendance entry screen did not show whether previous absences had been cleared or the
student had been absent other periods. There was also no place to enter the time at which
a tardy student arrived. These are all useful features of ISIS to which teachers have
become accustomed. It was strongly suggested that ATLAS will have apps that allow for
it to be used from tablets and smartphones.
One promising functionality in ATLAS, which is not available in SIS or ISIS, is the
ability to move easily across applications for student data. This means that if a counselor
or dean is looking at a student’s attendance, with one click the student’s grades, schedule
and other data can also be accessed. This will save time and clicks for out-of-classroom
Hope was expressed that ATLAS will replicate all necessary functions from SIS plus
reports that push key information to users (such as no show lists to counselors). In
addition, school users want robust ad hoc reporting capabilities, though this is not so
much a technical issue as a matter of obtaining permission from process owners in the
The next meeting of the Working Committee will be held on April 8, 2013.
Submitted by Alan Warhaftig, AALA’s ISIS representative. The next meeting is May 20, 2013.
On April 8, 2013, Dr. Judith Perez, AALA President, convened the fourth three-hour
“Working Committee” meeting with Ron Chandler, LAUSD Chief Information Officer, to
discuss the status of the Integrated Student Information System (ISIS). Also attending were
Dan Isaacs, AALA; Matt Hill, LAUSD’s Chief Strategy Officer; Greg McNair, Office of
the General Counsel; Walter Flores, School Operations; Dan Blank, Margaret Prietto, and
Harold Starr, school-site administrators; Kevin Kilpatrick, Office of Data Accountability;
Marvin Cruz, Dr. Bria Jones and Jen Kessler, ITD; Robert Storaker and Jay Gehringer,
school-site coordinators; Dr. Brian Muller, UTLA; and Alan Warhaftig, AALA.
ISIS will henceforth be known as MiSIS – My ISIS.
Greg McNair provided details about the arbitration with Constellation Software, Inc., which
LAUSD lost in December. LAUSD was ordered to pay $9.5 million for Constellation’s work
even if LAUSD did not deem it satisfactory. LAUSD will appeal the arbitrator’s decision.
Of the $107.2 million appropriated by the School Board in 2003, ISIS/MiSIS is expected to
have an unspent balance of $3,817,358 on June 30, 2013. The estimated annual operating
cost for ISIS for 2013-14 and 2014- 15 is $4,470,170, which includes nightly interfaces with
LAUSD is paying Constellation $72,000 per month for continued use of the SchoolMax
software. The intention is to stop paying these maintenance fees on or before June 30, 2014.
The cost of enterprise licenses for .net, Sharepoint, Silverlight and Microsoft Reporting
Services is $170,000 per year. This software is used for other LAUSD applications in
addition to MiSIS.
The estimated MiSIS development cost for 2013-14 is $12,515,199; for 2014-15, the
estimated cost will be $12,740,799. A request for approximately $25.3 million in bond
funding (Measures R, Y and Q) will be presented to the Board in June.
Efficacy was another focus. The committee requested a written statement of how ISIS/MiSIS
will be improved in 2013-14. Members requested school-configurable push notifications,
which would allow an e- mail to be sent to a teacher when attendance is not submitted or a
counselor when a student has uncleared absences, excessive tardies or is absent for several
consecutive days. The Transportation Branch should be alerted when buses are late – as well
as Procurement if it’s a contract bus.
The committee expressed the hope that MiSIS would perform all of the necessary functions
currently available in SIS. There was criticism of the ISIS Discipline Module, which does not
have the flexibility of the SIS ID-19 program. The MiSIS Discipline Module is expected to
be available for 2014-15.
Members of the committee urged that development of MiSIS be guided by the needs of
schools and end users, not just Central Office owners of business processes.
The widely criticized ISIS Gradebook will be replaced during 2013-14, and the introduction
of the MiSIS Gradebook was discussed. Concern was expressed that the MiSIS Gradebook
needs to be tested for a semester in a “production environment” – as beta software – to
identify problems that might not be revealed in a more limited test. Given the history of ISIS,
one member of the committee opined that MiSIS “has one chance to do this right.” Matt Hill
assured the committee that use of the MiSIS Gradebook by teachers will not be mandatory.
Printing report cards, particularly in December when employees have begun Winter Break,
remains a concern. Submitting final grades early would result in lost instructional time and
decreased attendance. Waiting to print report cards in the second week of January is
inadvisable and would overlap the opening of the spring semester. The high cost of report
card forms and school-based printing, as well as the $595 annual maintenance contracts for
pressure sealers, were also discussed. The committee felt that the District should be able to
print and mail report cards centrally at less expense, though Matt Hill indicated that school
budget allocations for these expenses would likely revert to the District if printing were
centralized. He promised to look into the matter and survey schools on their preferences.
[On April 17, Mr. Hill sent an e-mail to Dr. Perez and Mr. Isaacs in which he stated that
centralized printing of report cards “would not be feasible with our current resources.
Therefore, we will not be surveying the schools.” In the e-mail, he indicated that the costs of
pressure sealers will be paid centrally. The e-mail did not provide guidance or solutions to the
problem of printing Fall Semester final report cards.]
The full rollout of MiSIS is scheduled for 2014-15, and the committee urged robust training
differentiated by user roles. There should be “sandboxes,” web-based resources for reference,
and “wizards” to facilitate customization. The committee urged that training be compensated
at the hourly rate, not a training rate. [In the April 17 e-mail, Mr. Hill rejected this request:
“To ensure consistency across all trainings, employees will receive their training rate for
MiSIS training and not the per diem rate.”]
AALA thanks Alan Warhaftig for providing this summary of the meeting.
On May 20, 2013, Dr. Judith Perez, AALA President, convened the fourth three-hour “Working
Committee” meeting with Ron Chandler, LAUSD Chief Information Officer, to discuss the
status of the Integrated Student Information System (ISIS). The meeting was a followup to the
Working Committee meetings in December, January, February and April. Also attending the
meeting were Dan Isaacs, AALA; Walter Flores from School Operations; Dan Blank, Yvett
Landeros, and Harold Starr, school site administrators; Kevin Kilpatrick, Office of Data
Accountability; Marvin Cruz, Dr. Bria Jones and Jen Kessler, ITD; Robert Storaker and Jay
Gehringer, school site coordinators; Dr. Brian Muller, UTLA; and Alan Warhaftig, AALA.
On May 13, Chief Strategy Officer Matt Hill sent AALA a copy of the 58 page “My Integrated
Student Information System (MiSIS) Project Plan,” dated March 22, 2013. One of the emphases
of the plan is that ITD will utilize the “Agile” approach to develop the MiSIS software. This
approach has a language of its own, with “sprints” and “scrums,” “pigs” and “chickens,” and will
require significant changes in ITD’s culture after years of traditional, sequential development (the
“Waterfall” approach) on ISIS, BTS and other systems. Mr. Chandler characterized the Agile
approach as a “tried and true” methodology. (For more, consult Wikipedia.) Concern was
expressed about whether the MiSIS project would have enough resources to both complete the
full scope of the project and fix bugs – a frustrating problem with ISIS.
The plan identifies “scope creep” as a risk with medium probability but high impact. Scope creep
is the expansion of a project to include features or functions beyond those originally planned,
leading to delays and cost overruns. It can occur when new needs emerge (for example,
organizational changes, such as SLCS, or new state reporting requirements). It can also occur
when inadequate project requirements are issued during procurement and it becomes clear that
the resulting software will not meet the needs of end users. The MiSIS Project Plan includes a
long list of project specifications, but it’s difficult, in advance, to anticipate whether the final
product will provide efficient access to the integrated information schools need.
Dr. Brian Muller, representing UTLA, offered a distinction between “policy-driven data
collection” and “data-driven policy,” warning that the purposes of the software should not be
defined so inflexibly that it cannot be adapted to mid-course policy corrections. Hopefully,
MiSIS will be a tool that encourages LAUSD to find ways to improve teaching and learning, not
just a mechanism to validate current policies.
The plan defines an important role for “organizational change management,” which involves
equal parts process revision, management of expectations and internal public relations. Concern
was expressed that the success of MiSIS will ultimately depend far more on the quality of the
software than on marketing and change management efforts. Mr. Chandler stated that the MiSIS
project has a higher level of aspiration than in the past, when, for example, the attitude toward the
Gradebook module was that it did not need to be “best in class” – equivalent in function and ease
of use to the best commercially available software. The plan is to pilot the MiSIS Gradebook
module beginning next month.
A number of budget concerns remain, including lack of compensation for personnel to print final
fall semester report cards, low compensation rates for training on new MiSIS modules as they
become available, and astronomical compensation for consultants who will be doing much of the
MiSIS project development. At the June 18 meeting of the Board of Education, three MiSIS
funding items were addressed. Board Member Dr. Richard Vladovic expressed concern about the
value of the contract ($280,800 per year) of Dr. Bria Jones, the ISIS Project Director, though it
was approved. Two contracts for MiSIS Gradebook work ($235,200 to Microsoft and $207,900
to Streamline Solutions) were initially rejected (4-1 opposed); the Board subsequently
reconsidered and approved the contracts (6-0).
Contracts totaling $13,000,000 – to complete MiSIS Project milestones over the next five years –
were approved without discussion, though this was far less than the $25.3 million in MiSIS
development costs over the next two years disclosed by ITD at the April 8 meeting of the ISIS
Working Committee and reported in AALA Update. It is not clear whether ITD found a less
expensive way to develop MiSIS or there will be another large appropriation request in the next
Everyone agreed that the five meetings of the Working Committee had been valuable, and Dr.
Perez indicated that AALA was prepared to reconvene the Working Committee in the fall.