Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

School Grading Software III

Posted by David Keelan on Thursday, August 10, 2006

Updated 8-11-2006. 

Does this story sound familiar?

Parents may treasure their child’s report card more this month out of reverence for the immense labor that has been invested in producing the latest batch, due to be issued Jan. 18.

Overloads and outages of the district’s student information system, Chancery SMS, continued last week, preventing guidance counselors from changing student schedules, correcting transcripts, entering grade information and processing student transfers.

High school guidance counselors working for Metro said they are staying after school and coming in on weekends to compensate for time they cannot use Chancery during the workday.

A team of senior Chancery representatives will be in Nashville in late January and Lott said he is on the phone with Chancery’s CEO daily.

“We are a very important account to them,” Lott said. “It’s got their company’s awareness.” More…

This article was published January 2005 by the Nashville, TN City Paper discussing the implementation of Chancery SMS software in their school district.

Here is another article published December 2004 at the

One can search the Nashville Metro School System website for Chancery SMS related information (including performance issues) here.

The Howard County School System implemented the upgrade to the SMS software in June 2005, according to press reports.  Almost one year after Nashville.  One would think that the Howard County School System interviewed other users of the SMS software prior to implementing the upgrade themselves.  I am sure that they did, but I wonder if they spoke to Nashville.

If Howard County did interview the Nashvile Schools what were they told.  I am sure that they would have been given a frank assessment of their experiences.

Still no response from our current School Board members, including Ms. Watson and Ms. Sigaty (County Council candidates).  What over sight did the Board of Education provide over this purchase and implementation?

The DoDEA (Department of Defense Education Activity – they school the children of our military families) implemented the software and Stars and Stripes published this interesting article and had this article.

These articles ask the same questions I have asked.  Why not a pilot program before going with a full blown upgrade in the high schools?

What is striking about each of the articles is that they sound almost identical to the experiences we are having in Howard County. 

One might think that with this type of information available through an internet search that the administration and the School Board, which provides over sight, would have known about some of the issues that two of the nations largest education systems have been facing.


On June 7th the BoE reported the following to the County Council.

Mr. Robert Glascock, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, and Mr. Thomas Miller, Executive Director of Instruction and Business Technology, presented the report…

SIMS is a very complex system. A data warehouse will be implemented to separate the data storage and reporting units to decrease the electronic competition. It is a costly system; however, it will make significant improvements to the existing system.

How costly?  Is this over and above the $800K they have spent so far?

Current Board Chairman, Mr. Kaufman, suggested back in April that the School system seek “some sort of redress from Chancery, either in the future or in the current agreement, with regard to the unanticipated expenses that have occurred.”  I haven’t read that in the papers, but I think they should expect some consideration if indeed this is a Chancery issue.  If it is poor planning then Chancery doesn’t need to pony up.

From the operating budget:

The fiscal 2007 budget includes a database engineering position to support the student management system database (a cost of up to $130K).  The budget also adds funds to perform contracted enterprise networking analysis and implement identified solutions (a cost of up to $250K). The increased cost of software maintenance for new and existing systems (the budget item went up $266K but includes other software too) has been added in fiscal 2007.

I wonder if this additional $646K has been reported in the press?

It seems that on top of the $800K, the 2007 budgeted $646K (or less) and now the data warehousing implementation of $???.?? SMS is becoming a very expensive item.  Now I know that they have had an SMS in place for 20 years, but since when did it cost this much?

Was this explained in full to the County Council?

I am hopeful for an explanation.

Previous Posts on this topic


One Response to “School Grading Software III”

  1. […] […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: