MANATEE – Capacity problems on a new computer system worth nearly $1 million continue to plague Manatee County School district officials.
Monday, the computer software system known as FOCUS could not handle the number of teachers who were submitting grades for report cards. Teachers were to turn in grades before the end of the day while students were out of school.
Instead of turning grades in, all of the elementary school teachers were asked by Assistant Superintendent Scott Martin to “log out of FOCUS immediately.” Martin sent a district-wide email to ensure his directions were seen.
He also told secondary employees in middle and high schools that they should use the rest of the day to complete grades. Elementary school personnel being off the system would allow “the full processing bandwidth” and “alleviate the issue with slowness,” Martin said in his email.
Martin added that an extension was granted for elementary school personnel to submit grades on Wednesday afternoon. Grades can now be turned in from teachers by 11 p.m. Thursday, Martin said.
Teachers are becoming overly frustrated with the reoccurring computer crashes and capacity issues.
“There’s so little trust in the system that they have to keep separate records,” teachers union president Pat Barber said.
Barber said she has been hearing that teachers are having problems logging into the system. The computer has been freezing up. And grades have been disappearing.
“If the tools they have been giving don’t work, there’s only so much they can do,” Barber said.
School board members were assured at the Oct. 10 board meeting that the FOCUS system was in the process of being fixed to handle the influx of personnel using it. Martin told board members that at least $88,000 was spent to pay for additional computer processors.
He said those two computer processors would help the system run more smoothly.
An extension was granted for elementary school personnel, and they were advised to use the day as a planning day.
Martin said elementary teachers will be able to use Wednesday, after students are released for early dismissal, to enter grades into the computer system.