ATLANTA -- Fixing computers in Georgia's school system so that they are ready for the next century may not be as costly as previously believed, Schools Superintendent Linda Schrenko says.
Mrs. Schrenko said Thursday that the bill should be less than the $45 million allocated by lawmakers last week, and most of the state's 180 school systems should have the year 2000 problems remedied by February, the Morris News Service reported.
School administrators should be happy to hear that. They need to have their computer systems in place by the middle of next year to avoid falling victim to the year 2000 glitch.
The year 2000 bug, which keeps many computers from reading the date correctly after Dec. 31, 1999, could mess up school payrolls and record-keeping.
Last week, Mrs. Schrenko and state School Board Chairman Johnny Isakson were grilled by legislative leaders who were concerned that the Department of Education was having to ask for more money to fix the problem.
The lawmakers appeared mystified over how the department spent $33.9 million previously budgeted to fix the year 2000 problem and implement new financial accounting and student services software, only to learn in recent months the work wasn't complete and would cost $119.7 million instead.
However, very little of the $45 million transferred by lawmakers last week to fix the problem will be needed, partly because there is other money available specifically for the year 2000 problem, Mrs. Schrenko said.
She said she now estimates it will cost only about $1.7 million to fix the computer systems in most school districts. In others with more complex systems, the department has estimated the total cost will range from $6.3 million to $10.5 million.
A few dozen systems working on their own to repair the problems will have their costs refunded by the state.