Student data website in the process of modernization

In recent years the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) has been working to modernize the Student Information System (SIS), which is used to record grades, register for classes, and pay fees.

The estimated cost for the new software is $38 million and is being allocated from Measure J funds, which is a $3.5 billion bond initiative that was passed by Los Angeles voters in 2008 to improve the district’s community colleges.

The SIS currently in place uses technology from half a century ago and is a patchwork of many different systems that requires increasingly expensive maintenance work every year, according to a project summary provided by the LACCD office.

Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC) and Pierce were designated as the “pilot colleges” in the summary for testing of the new system.

The district had projected that the system would be ready for testing by the summer of 2012 with district-wide implementation to the other seven colleges to be ready by 2015, but issues over the last year regarding the selection of a suitable contractor have slowed the project.

On Oct. 6, LACCD issued a “Notice of Intent to Award,” stating that the Board of Trustees was going to approve the proposal with Cedar Crestone to implement the project and Oracle America to provide the software.

According to Jorge Mata, LACCD chief information officer, one of the other companies that provided a proposal protested this awarding and the Board of Trustees is now reevaluating their decision, which means the district’s colleges are going to have to wait longer before they see the new system.

“It’s important because it’s going to affect every student, administrator, and faculty member in the district,” said Mata.

During the primary stage of the project, all employees of LACCD were requested to provide input on the current system and how it could possibly be improved.

Mark Henderson, Pierce College’s information technologies (IT) manager, participated in developing the requirements for the new SIS which resulted in “over 4,000 critical, important and needed requirements,” according to the project summary.

Also stated in the project summary is the development of an executive team that would oversee the project comprised of a full-time administrator, technical project manager, and an advisory committee with representatives from all over the district to provide on-going feedback of the system’s performance.

“We definitely expect improvements as far as reliability and up-time,” said Henderson. “That’s what’s anticipated, moving forward.”