New Software Causing Trouble For NC Students

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - High school senior Kirsten Hemrick is applying for college.

"I get to meet new people, experience new things. Learn more," she said.

She wants to be a veterinarian. But her goal may have a computer glitch. State officials bought a new software program called Power School. The $7 million program operated by Homebase is supposed to electronically track students' records. But school districts statewide report the program sometimes miscalculates GPAs and prints transcripts with classes missing.

"It scares me," Hemrick said. "Then I might not get the education that I could get."

The computer mistakes could also keep kids from playing sports.

"You don't want to be the one tell them they are eligible and then later tell them they are ineligible. That breaks their heart," said Joe McCormick, athletic director for Glenn High School in Kernersville.

McCormick isn't the only concerned Winston-Salem Forsyth County schools administrator.

"We found quite a few errors," Counseling Director Natalie Harding said. "I'm constantly checking that."

Harding says the district now checks transcripts by hand.

"It takes you away from working with your students," she said.

Rosalyn Galloway oversees the PowerSchool program for the state. She says the state knows about the problems, but the concerns are just growing pains.

"It's hard going through the first year but after that you don't experience the same level of pain," Galloway said.

Her department has already changed the software's code, developed best practices to avoid problems, and given schools extra training. Yadkin County School district leaders say the changes have helped. But they wonder why the glitches weren't worked out before they started using the software.

"This plane's flying and we're building it as we go," said Chris Fowler of the Yadkin County School District.

State officials say money for the old system was running out. So the only option was to put this new one in place – even if it wasn't ready. Kirsten just hopes those fixes will come fast enough to keep the software from impacting her dream of becoming a vet.


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