$40 million more OKd to fix MiSiS, then it will cost at least $12 million each year to maintain
Mike Szymanski | April 14, 2016
Another $40.3 million was approved to repair and run the beleaguered MiSiS computer system for the next year, but the big question at Tuesday’s LA Unified School Board meeting was how much it will cost to maintain once all the repairs are done.
The answer came late into the nearly six-hour meeting when board member Monica Ratliff asked Diane Pappas, CEO of strategic planning and digital innovation, “So, how much will it cost to maintain MiSiS?”
Pappas said, “We are estimating this at $12 million, but that is just an estimate, it could be more. I don’t want to tell you 100 percent it’s that, but you should be budgeting a minimum of $12 million to maintain the system.”
Ratliff, while acknowledging Pappas for providing a complete report of the MiSiS progress, said she was still concerned. “I don’t know where we’re going to get that from, and I just want to put that out there that we need to find it.”
The repair funds come from bond money, but the $12 million to maintain the system every year will have to come out of the general fund.
“This is actually a big deal,” Ratliff said.
MiSiS, whose formal name is My Integrated Student Information System, was created to combine student data throughout the district. Its initial cost was $29.7 million. That has risen dramatically since the board approved it in 2013, as additional expenses were required for desktop computers and for repairing major glitches in the system. The system will now also include information from independent charter schools.
When the system launched in 2014 it was glitchy and malfunctioning, assigning students to courses they had already taken or to no classes at all during some periods, and required an influx of extra money to help stabilize it.
Last spring officials said they needed $79.6 million more to fully repair the system by the end of this school year. That took the overall budget to $133.6 million. With the additional funding approved Tuesday, which is to carry through June 2017, the cost of the system will hit $173.9 million.
The new money requested will add high-priority enhancements and emergency fixes to the system. A user-friendly ad hoc reporting tool will cost $4.1 million, the integration of charter schools will cost $3.6 million, the pilot of the online grade book will cost $9.7 million and the parent access portal across the district will cost $1.1 million, according to some of the breakdowns.
Pappas noted that so far this year the system has run reliably and that officials continue to hold focus groups to give them feedback throughout the district. They have added 350 new enhancements and fixed 1,400 software bugs in the past year and trained more than 1,400 users on the system.
The system will validate graduation requirements, improve English Learner reclassifications, develop graduation eligibility status and provide an auto-save feature for teachers entering their grades.
The staff anticipates completing the tweaks to the system by June 2018. After 2018, the regular maintenance funding won’t come from the School Construction Bond Citizen’s Oversight Committee, which assigns bond money to school projects. It was determined in March by that committee that the money should be approved for MiSiS.
Ratliff still expressed concern about the continuing cost of maintenance for the system. “We need to find money and keep it in the budget forever,” she said.
School board president Steve Zimmer said, “We know this is serious and also acknowledge that work is being done, and this is going to work.”
Pappas warned, however, “We are not out of the woods, there is still a lot of work to be done.”