COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
P. O. BOX 2120
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120
SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 9
January 16, 1998

INFORMATIONAL

TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Richard T. La Pointe
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Status of Department of Education Effort Regarding Student Information System Issues

 
  This is to inform you of the Department of Education's plans
  regarding the state-funded information system known as "the
  Columbia System" or "VASIMS". We are aware of your concerns
  centering around the issues of long-term maintenance and
  support, utility of the DOS-based software on today's newer
  computers and networks, and the ability of the software to
  meet the current and long-term information needs of schools,
  school divisions and the Department of Education. Several
  efforts are under way to address these concerns. 

  MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT

  We have received written confirmation from the new owner of
  the software, National Computer Systems (NCS) that the firm
  has a strong commitment to maintaining the DOS version of
  the product.  The state's current support contract expires
  on June 30, 1998. The Department is in the process of
  submitting the paperwork to renew that contract through June
  30, 1999.  We will also continue to fund training in the use
  of the product through 1998-99 with currently budgeted
  funds.

  UTILITY OF THE DOS-BASED SOFTWARE

  Many school divisions wish to upgrade to a more current
  software product. The Department is currently working with
  the Department of General Services to add current software
  to the state contract. This will enable those divisions that
  wish to upgrade their systems to take advantage of a state
  contract purchase. 

  LONG-TERM INFORMATION NEEDS

  The Department is proposing a comprehensive Information
  Strategy Planning effort that will address administrative
  information needs at the school, division, and state levels.
  The last plan was completed in 1986. The proposed effort
  will identify not only the information needs, but also will
  provide a long-range implementation plan and recommendations
  for meeting them.  Such a plan may provide for needed
  regulatory changes and may become the basis for funding new
  administrative initiatives in the coming years. 

  These efforts address the current problems and provide
  direction for the future.  Should you have any questions or
  concerns, please contact Jerry Mathews at
  jmathews@pen.k12.va.us, telephone (804) 225-2099.

  RTL/emt