One-Third of Public Schools Have Not Fixed Computer Bug: Study Finds Education Lagging Behind Banking, Power Sectors

Article excerpt

More than one-third of the nation's public schools and colleges have not fixed possible computer and technology problems that could occur at the start of the year 2000, a national survey has found.

With 64 days to go before the new year, only 64 percent of elementary and high school districts and just 61 percent of colleges and universities said all of their critical computer systems are ready to go for 2000, according to officials at the Department of Education, who released the results of their latest survey of school districts and post-secondary institutions yesterday.

"Schools continue to make progress in their Y2K efforts, but I'm concerned because many don't expect to be fully Y2K-compliant until the final couple of months of 1999, leaving little room for testing or for any slippage in their schedules," Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley said. "Clearly, our schools need to give very serious attention to Y2K business continuity and contingency planning."

The year-2000 technology problem has been an ongoing cause of global concern and stems from a cost-saving shortcut in which software programmers devoted only two spaces to designate the year. It threatens computer systems, particularly those that are older, because as the date changes from 1999 to 2000, some systems may read the new year as "00", meaning 1900 rather than 2000.

Close to 1,000 school districts and more than 1,350 colleges and universities responded to the Department of Education survey, which was conducted by mail in September and completed in the first week of October.

Since summer, the percentage of schools that report their computer systems will not be fully compliant by Jan. …