Year 2000 Readiness Looms as a Problem

abstracted from “Many Schools Not Ready for Year 2000, Survey Shows” by Pamela Mendels

Cybertimes, November 3, 1999

As recently as two months prior to the year 2000, more than a third of the nation’s K-12 districts reported that they weren’t fully prepared for the millennium’s effect on their computer systems. In fact, the percentage of districts saying they wouldn’t be Y2K-compliant by Jan. 1 has actually doubled since the summer.

A telephone survey in October of nearly 1,000 K-12 districts by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) revealed that at least four percent of districts nationwide won’t be ready by Jan. 1. The survey followed an earlier poll taken by ED in June in which only 2 percent of districts declared they wouldn’t be Y2K-ready.

The latest ED survey, released Oct. 27, measures the Y2K readiness of schools in five areas: mission-critical systems; central administrative systems (accounting, finance, payroll, etc.); student services (student records, bus schedules, food services, etc.); infrastructure (heating, security, telecommunications, etc.); and contingency planning.

While the figures show K-12 schools lagging behind the most in preparing their infrastructure components, there is also cause for alarm in the number of districts reporting that they will have contingency plans in place, with only 83 percent saying they would have a plan ready by Jan. 1.

Edison Schools Holds Initial Public Offering of Stock

abstracted from “Edison Schools Inc. Makes Long-Awaited Debut on Wall Street” by Mark Walsh

Education Week, November 17, 1999, p. 6

Edison Schools Inc. held its much-anticipated initial public offering (IPO) of stock Nov. 11, but did so without much fanfair on Wall Street. After opening trading at $18 per share, Edison ended its first day on the market at just $18.06—not quite the stirring entry seen in recent months among other IPOs.

Some analysts say investors aren’t quite sold on for-profit education.

“(Edison’s IPO) wasn’t well received by the market,” said Peter P. Appert, an analyst for Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown. “There are a lot of questions about whether K-12 education can be a profitable business.”

Edison Schools Inc., formerly the Edison Project, manages 79 schools across the country. The company, launched in 1991, offered to the public 6.8 million shares and raised $122.4 million its first day on the market.

Not everyone viewed the IPO as a disappointment. John M. McLaughlin, editor of The Education Industry Report, called Edison’s move a “momentous event,” because the burgeoning education management industry has its first big-name player in the stock market. The California Office of Public School Construction (COPSC) has introduced a new web site (http://www.design share.com) where it will post prototype school design plans. COPSC has enlisted Design Share, of Minneapolis, and Talaria Research, of El Dorado Hills, Calif., to help develop the web site.

The site will use Design Share’s Plan Abstract Language and graphic user interface, a feature that lets users quickly scan through a large number of abstracted plans, which then link to more detailed plans, plus photographs, and construction data. At its launch, thirty plans were available at the site.