Frequently Asked Y2K Questions

Frequently Asked Y2K Questions

Gwinnett County Public Schools
Y2K Update (9/99)

Gwinnett County Public Schools is...

l approaching the Y2K situation in a calm, rational manner using a comprehensive management plan.

l putting safety of students first.

l working to ensure any interruptions to service are minimal.

l taking necessary actions to preserve student and employee records.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Y2K?
Y2K is the acronym for Year 2000 and is sometimes used as a reference for the inability of some technology to process the change from 1999 to 2000. When computers first came into use, programmers were forced to leave out the “19” in front of the year to save memory and production costs. Therefore, when the year 2000 arrives, the date will read 01/01/00. Some software programs and embedded technology won’t know if the year is 1900 or 2000. These are the programs and systems that companies are trying to find and fix.

Is Gwinnett County Public Schools paying attention to Y2K?
Absolutely. Over the past 10 years, Gwinnett County has made a tremendous investment in the technology in its schools. Taking care of this equipment and software is a top priority.
Since 1992, the school system has been actively planning for Year 2000. Last summer, these plans were expanded when the Georgia Department of Education cancelled a project to deliver Y2K-compliant administrative systems and a student information system. The cancellation of this project added more than 2,600 computer applications to the system’s Y2K conversion plan.

Will Y2K affect other things in addition to the school system’s mainframe computer and its programs?
Besides computers, many other things used on a daily basis have computer chips and electronics contained within them or embedded in them. These embedded chips are found in many unexpected places. If an item uses electricity, batteries, or some sort of power supply or has a display, microprocessor, or a calendar function, it may be at risk.
GCPS has been very thorough in trying to identify possible problems. Computers, networks, programs, equipment, and various systems have been checked and, if needed, updated. In addition, schools have been asked to verify that any software or equipment purchased locally is Y2K ready.

How is the school system addressing Y2K?
The school system’s plan for fixing the Y2K computer problem focuses on four main areas:
Central Office Tech Support— services provided by the Division of Information Management (hardware; operating system software; business applications; servers; systemwide network; and e-mail)
End-User Computing— computers and system-supported software used by local schools and offices
Facilities— security, fire and intrusion alarms; energy management systems; environmental systems; telephone and fax systems; clocks; satellites; and other facility-related technology
Supply Chain— the readiness of the school system’s many suppliers.

What progress has been made?
GCPS is using a six-phase process to tackle Y2K problems in the areas of central office tech support, end-user computing, facilities, and supply chain. The six phases are awareness; assessment and planning; implementation; test and validation; deployment; and contingency planning. Most of the school system’s at-risk programs/areas have been tested and validated. So far, minor issues have been uncovered and have been resolved quickly. Overall, mainframe application testing has proven successful. In the next few months, the school system will finish testing and will develop contingency plans of critical business processes to help the school system handle any Y2K-related problems should they arise.

How are we determining the readiness of critical suppliers (water, power, banks, etc.)?
Determining the readiness of critical suppliers is a three-step process. The first step identified the school system’s critical suppliers. Next, these suppliers were contacted and asked to fill out a survey which clarifies their Year 2000 intentions and certifies their readiness in writing. Finally, GCPS has followed-up with suppliers to verify their Year 2000 plan completion and to monitor other issues suppliers have uncovered.

What are some of the tangible results of this process?
399 critical suppliers (99 percent of the total list of critical suppliers) have been certified as ready.
21,000 PCs and 440 servers have been inventoried and readied.
Y2K-ready language is in use by Purchasing and Construction departments.
1,350 critical Business and Finance applications are in production.
All critical student applications are in production.
All high school AS400s and applications are in production.
Departmental applications have been certified.
GCPS’ media center replacement rollout is underway.
• All components with embedded chips (intrusion alarms, program clocks, radios, bus engines, etc.)
have been certified ready.

How are local schools preparing for Y2K?
In addition to all of the work on the system level, local schools have played an important role in preparing for Y2K. Local school technology coordinators, technology support technicians, and media specialists have worked with the Division of Information Management to help make sure local schools are ready. They provided support while local computers were inventoried and readied. In addition, they have played a lead role in making sure that any current or future locally-purchased software is Y2K ready.

Will GCPS be ready for Y2K?
Yes, GCPS will be ready for Year 2000. In fact, the school system already has met the critical July 1 end-of-fiscal-year test when more than 700 business software applications were converted to the new century. “From the perspective of the school district’s financial operations, July 1999— the beginning of the school system’s fiscal year 2000— was a more critical hurdle than January 2000,” says Rick Cost, chief financial officer. “With the completion of the testing of all critical payroll and financial computer applications in June, we have cleared that hurdle. I am extremely confident about our ability to clear any future financial Y2K hurdles that might present themselves.”
Over the past 18 months, GCPS has stepped up its work on its Y2K preparedness plan. Chief Information Officer Jim Woolen, whose division is spearheading the plan, is pleased with the Y2K efforts to date. “We are committed to providing uninterrupted service to faculty, staff, and students,” says Mr. Woolen. “As we continue working on our Y2K plan, I have no doubt that we will meet the Y2K challenges in a timely fashion.”

Where can I get more information about GCPS’ Y2K plans?
For more information, contact GCPS Chief Information Officer Jim Woolen at (770) 822-6500, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.