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UPDATED: Parents Crash APS ‘First Day Forms’ Server

by ARLnow.com September 7, 2011 at 9:01 am 2,966 113 Comments

Some parents are giving Arlington Public Schools an ‘F’ for an apparently botched effort to put the school system’s “first day forms” online for the first time this year.

A number of parents told us they had trouble trying to submit the forms, after spending time to fill them out.

“After typing 20 minutes of information in 6-point type, the online form just throws you out to the beginning,” one parent said. “We wouldn’t all be trying so hard except that the alternative is to fill it out by hand every September for the next 10 years.”

Other parents said the form was completely unreachable for a period of time last night.

“Each year, parents are required to fill these forms out and return them to school as soon as possible,” one parent explained. “Unfortunately, the APS server cannot handle the volume of traffic and has apparently crashed…  We’re turning in our forms on paper — if they don’t have their act together for something like this, they can do data entry until they get it right.”

Update at 12:15 p.m. — School administrators have sent a letter to parents regarding problems with the online form. A computer worm may be to blame, they said.

Dear APS Parents:

We wanted to take this opportunity to encourage you to complete your student’s “first day packet forms” online this year. We know many parents experienced some problems last night and we wanted to let you know that the problems have been resolved, and to provide you some information along with our sincere apologies for any problems you may have experienced.

Yesterday afternoon, two separate problems occurred which may have affected your online experience with APS. First, the new, online registration forms site received much heavier traffic than we expected. This is great news, but the sudden increase in demand caused the server to become overloaded. Recognizing the increased need to support this new service, last night our Information Services team moved the online forms center to a stronger server to accommodate your service needs.

At the same time, unfortunately, SchoolWires, the APS website vendor, experienced an unexpected problem which caused our website not to function properly. They were able to restore service by about 11 p.m. last night. They are still investigating the cause of the problem but initial reports indicate that a virus or worm infected the server and deleted important files. Using backup files, they were able to bring our website back online.

These problems couldn’t have happened at a worse time—the first day of school! But please be assured that we were aware of the problems and worked last night to restore full service as soon as possible.

Fortunately, this morning, all systems are back. Please accept our sincere apologies for any difficulties you may have experience, and thank you for your patience and understanding.

Flickr pool photo by afagen

  • Disclaimer: Yes, we’ve had plenty of our own server problems recently, so we sympathize with APS here.

    • Lou

      Yeah, but they have a $450 million budget. You don’t.

      • Servers and disc space are relatively cheap now when you have that kind of budget. Perhaps the implementation of the form software was the problem?

    • NPGMBR

      I wonder how long these forms were available? Were they just posted this weekend or have they been there for some time and these parents just did it at the last minute.

      • YHS Parent

        The forms were available for the first time yesterday.

      • Carole

        We just found out about them yesterday. We got an email during the day as well as a typed explanation in the dreaded first day packet.

  • Sarah

    Filling out a form by hand? The horrors!

    How dare the parents be so inconvenienced!

    • alebt

      That is not the issue Sarah. I am happy to put pen to paper. However, the school system paid to develop the online option and paid to print out handouts that went home with the kids to encourage online submission and it was an epic fail.

    • Chouse

      +1

    • Donna

      As a parent with two kids in the APS school system, I do not care if I have to fill out the forms by hand. However, the staff is heavily PUSHING the use of the online system. And we all paid for it.

    • Craig

      Eat it. You know when you go to the doctor and they make you fill out the same information on 7 different forms? Name, address, employer, employer address, etc.? Don’t you find that annoying?

      Double the amount of paperwork you do at the doctor, and multiply by the number of kids you have in school. Multiply again by 13 for having to do it all again every year.

      It’s a shame that a school district in such an educated and tech-forward area hasn’t figured out how to computerize this process before now. Let’s hope they get the capacity issue solved sooner rather than later.

      • Chouse

        Soldiers are over in the Afghanistan, Iraq etc fighting for your freedom and you are complaining on a blog how you have to take 10 minutes out of your day one day a year to fill out a medical form.

        Jeez, no wonder people think Arlington is a bunch of complainers, lets put some perspective to your “problems”

        • Craig

          Blow me. You have your complaints, I have mine. None compare to soldiers anywhere, not did I say they did. Next time you want complain about anything or suggest a better way of doing something, I want you to think of the soldiers and then shut your mouth.

          • Chouse

            I was not the one complaining here last time I checked. I was simply pointing out how much of an immature whining brat you sound like, that you had to ‘labor’ one day a year to fill out a medical form for your kids and how stupid of a complaint that is compared to people with serious problems. And I do thank the soldiers.

          • drax

            Chouse,

            You’re wasting even more time complaining about how others are complaining.

            The idea that the existence of more serious problems make less serious problems completely irrelevant is idiotic. I’m sure you’ve never complained about anything at all since the day we invaded Afghanistan, right?

          • drax

            Yes, you are complaining here, Chouse. And you’re being a complete ass too.

            Let me clear this up right now – soldiers in Afghanistan or any other problem in the world does not exist so that you can go around using it as a weapon to bash anyone who dares complain about anything.

        • Magic Hobo

          These two things are not connected.

        • drax

          Soldiers are over in the Afghanistan, Iraq etc fighting for your freedom and you are complaining on a blog how someone else is complaining on a blog about how they have to take 10 minutes out of their day one day a year to fill out a medical form.

    • drax

      Wow, Sarah, you actually posted this drivel in an on-line form. The irony index of that is pretty much 100%

  • alebt

    @ARLnow-the difference between your server problems and the APS problems is that I didn’t pay for your technical upgrade. I will be very interested in learning the details of exactly what went wrong. I would hope whoever designed the application prepared for a possible 15,000 submissions on one day. (I am being overly conservative on my estimates of the number of parents who may have the inclination and ability to submit online. ) But this is a big black eye no matter if it was a unknowable glitch in the equipment or a software problem or a development problem.

  • BoredHouseWife

    I figured we crashed it.

  • M Smith

    @ alebt- big black eye? There are people out there with serious things going on in their lives, sick relatives, hurting for cash, and this is what you have to complain about? Boo f’ing hoo. Seriously.

    • Chouse

      Well said.

      • Josh S

        There’s no need to assume other people are not capable of putting things in perspective. Nothing on this forum suggests they are not.

        For THIS ISSUE and THIS ISSUE ONLY this was a big black eye, a fail, a mess up, whatever you want to call it. It’s really really really not that hard to understand.

        If you don’t have a dog in this hunt, then stay out of the conversation. Sitting on the sidelines and lobbing out “soldiers in Iraq, people in the hospital” is frankly just a bit juvenile.

        • M Smith

          What gives us a dog in the hunt? Kids in school? I have students in APS. So on the scale of how did the computer system work, EPIC FAIL, BIG BLACK EYE, THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!!! So people are not over reacting, if we limit their reaction to APS’s computer system being overloaded. I get it. You guys should storm the district office or run for school board.

          • ZoningVictim

            You obviously don’t work in IT. I do and if anybody at my company failed to properly test a product to make sure it was going to handle the expected load and got the same result as APS just did, it would be looked at as a colossal failure and heads would roll. The fact that this didn’t cost anyone a few millions of dollars like it would have if I made that mistake where I work doesn’t make this blunder any less pathetic.

            The worst part is that these are the people who are supposed to be educating our youth and they can’t even complete a simple project. Maybe you don’t mind if a bunch of failures are the ones responsible for educating your kids, but I do because I don’t want your kids grow up to be a bunch of idiots who think failures like this are expected to happen. Mistakes like this aren’t an expected thing to happen in real business, and they cost a lot of money in the real world. Here, I’ll prove it. Let’s say 10,000 parents had to spend the 30 minutes to fill out these forms a second time and deliver them to the school. That’s 5,000 hours of lost time, which at $35 an hour is $175,000 worth of time lost. That’s exactly how a business would determine the impact of a mistake like this, but hey, it was just a bunch of parents who had to fill out a form twice and there are people fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, so who cares if your kids are trained by a bunch of failures.

          • Loocy

            The people actually educating your children are not the same people who are working in IT. It sounds like someone in the central office goofed — they said “oh, these arlingtonians hate change, we’ll be lucky if we get 100 submissions this initial year” so wrote the spec for minimal connections. Little did they know that the parents still remember their hand cramps from last year after filling out all the forms in teensy weensy handwriting for each child, and everyone jumped at the chance to do it online.

          • ZoningVictim

            The people who run the schools are responsible for the oversight of everything the schools system does, including IT and the teachers. Therefore, they are educating the children, whether they’re standing in the classrooms or not.

            I love their response, especially, “Recognizing the increased need to support this new service, last night our Information Services team moved the online forms center to a stronger server to accommodate your service needs”

            Yeah, right; a “stronger” server, seriously? This is the most ridiculous excuse I’ve heard in a long time. It ranks right up there with “the dog ate my homework.” Engineer to developer: “Do you want your application deployed to the strong server or the wimpy server. Developer: “Oh, just deploy it to the wimpy server; nobody likes to do stuff online, anyway, especially affluent and well educated people like we have here in Arlington.” I’m not buying it. The people running APS would have to have no clue about the people they’re supposed to be servicing. Wait a minute; maybe it’s not so far-fetched. I’m still not sure how doing bad analysis it’s supposed to be any less of a failure than not testing that a deployment can handle the anticipated load. Being clueless about IT versus being clueless about the population you serve is still just being clueless, and clueless educators can’t be a good thing.

          • drax

            Now is when chouse is starting to make sense. It was just a screwup with computers. Happens all the time. Don’t make TOO much out of it.

          • ZoningVictim

            No, it really doesn’t happen all of the time; that’s the point. It happens with amateurs, and I expect our school system with all of the money we put into it to be able to perform above the level of amateur. With all of the money we spend on our educational system, we should at least expect mediocre performances of simple tasks. It’s pathetic that it’s taken this long for them to automate their form submissions to begin with.

          • arlec

            With all the money we pour in? Maybe this simply means we don’t pour enough in.

          • speonjosh

            OK, I’ll now climb on board with Chouse. Leave it to victim to take us to new levels of absurdity….

        • Chouse

          I think parents complaining here about a flawed computer system for their kids medical forms as if a huge scandel just rocked APS is frankly just a bit juvenile.

          • drax

            Chouse, everyone here knows you’d be whining like a female dog and bashing your computer screen in if you actually had to fill out miles of forms, only to find they are lost and you have to start over or do them by hand. You don’t fool anyone.

            You better not post under “Chouse” ever again because someone’s always going to reply “shut up and quit your whining, there are soldiers in Afghanistan.”

        • CW

          Yeah, seriously. The terms “context” and “relative” come to mind.

          Or I could just be like everyone else on this thread…there are people dying in Iraq! Starving kids in india! Donaldson Run just flooded! Who cares if your company is profitable, or if you had to sit in traffic for an hour this morning, nothing matters, everything else is irrelevant! Let’s only talk in extremes! Discussing specific issues is petty and trivial! Rabble!

          • Richard Cranium

            “Just” flooded? Where have you been???? It’s been wet for so long that many people think it’s the location of the Lost City of Atlantis!

          • Richard Cranium

            Speaking of which – nice storm. Clarendon Boulevard is now considered a Class 3 Rapids.

    • alebt

      @MSmith-my point is not to complain that I was unable to accomplish a simple task for my child. I am perfectly capable of, as I said earlier, putting pen to paper. My questions go to the efficiency of the development of a tax payer funded program which may concern you whether or not you have children in the APS system. From a business perspective, if you tout an option to your “customers” and can’t deliver….I consider that a black eye. You are welcome to your own opinion.

      • Sue

        +1

      • CW

        BUT THE HEAT DEATH OF THE UNIVERSE IS IMMINENT!!!! WHY ARE YOU WASTING TIME ON THIS TRIVIAL NONSENSE??!

      • M Smith

        It is very annoying and frustrating to fill out the form, only to have it make you start over. The tax dollars angle and wanting to get to the bottom of it seems a little overboard.

      • NPGMBR

        How long were the forms available to parents?

        • Carole

          Parents found out about them yesterday. And the poor children are frantic: “Mom!! The teacher said EVERYBODY had to bring ALL the forms back TOMORROW or there will be CONSEQUENCES! You HAVE to do it tonight!!!!!” It’s always a big fat deal to get them back the next day, I blew it off one year and my children will never forget it.

      • John Fontain

        albet, is the @ really necessary?

        • alebt

          you mean @alebt? 🙂

          I think it helps understand the flow of a thread if things are moving swiftly. Perhaps it is not the standard any longer. I will check my Twitter guide.

          • speonjosh

            This ain’t twitter. Lose the @.

  • Johnny Utah

    I don’t have any kids, but, i live in Arlington. So, I paid for this online forms submission server too.

    I want reparations!

    • M Smith

      *like*

  • othersideoftheriver

    Took about 5 minutes at 6:45 this morning, and the bonus is that with an online form you can make the type bigger.

    Moving on.

    • stopcomplaining

      I did it at 3:00pm yesterday and it went fine…..everyone always gotta give someone a hard time about something . There are more thngs to worry about then APS screwing up so what there system overloaded it happens to servers everyday ….move on…

      • ZoningVictim

        And we wonder why the US spends more per child than any other nation and can’t break into the top 50% for math and science when ranked among the other industrialized nations. Well, keep making excuses for them not being able to do the simplest of computing tasks, I’m sure it will get better.

        • arlec

          Yes, we are frustrated when computers don’t work well, that explains all the problems in our educational system. (eyeroll)

          • ZoningVictim

            Try reading the post again, and this time, try to actually comprehend it.

          • arlec

            I did. It says the same thing. So you have to stop being lazy and explain what you really meant.

        • Cate

          I’d say it’s because we rely too heavily on computers. They take away all critical thinking skills.

  • CW

    Rather than commenting about this on arlnow, I suggest writing to APS with feedback. Here is a link: http://www.apsva.us/cms/module/selectsurvey/TakeSurvey.aspx?PageNumber=1&SurveyID=112

    • drax

      I see what you did there – you want people to go to an online form to complain about an online form.

      • BoredHouseWife

        looks like some of you need coffee.

    • Johnny Utah

      i’m not falling for that one again!

      • CW

        P.S. that wasn’t me!

        • drax

          How do we know this is you though?

          • CW

            Lol. I guess what I meant was that wasn’t even someone using my login.

  • Sal

    Here’s what gets me. Those who can find no more purpose in their lives than to troll what should be a light and locally informative blog in search of posts for which their limited intellect and experience somehow only allows them to angrily and illogically rant — or worse — compare local situations to Iraq and Afghanistan. Everyone in Arlington knows friends and neighbors in the (volunteer) military so please spare us all your pointless, pernicious pontificating.

  • Carole

    I was thrilled that I could finally fill out the forms online. Like many others, the first time I tried to enter the data yesterday afternoon, it threw me back to the start. I figured that I had taken so long digging around for numbers that it had timed out (when entering data in forms, the receiving system does not detect typing activity), so I made sure that I had all the phone numbers etc in front of me and tried again, this time moving through the whole form without delay. It worked very well the second time, much easier than entering the values by hand, and now I know that my information won’t lose accuracy while being transcribed. I would have liked to have been able to keep some of the values in the form for the second child, but that’s an improvement I’ll request for next year!

    Last night, when I tried to get on to enter my directory information, however, it was clear that some of the servers had crashed, as only fragments of the web pages were showing up. I don’t think APS expected quite so many people to address the online entry system, but it was working fine this morning.

    So I think it is a great start. For next year, they need to increase the timeout period and give a warning before timing out, as well as plan for a far greater number of simultaneous connections. That plus copying sibling data from one form to another and I would be thrilled!

    • Rebecky

      +1

    • ZoningVictim

      You’ll get a timeout error if your session times out if it’s setup correctly; they just plain screwed up. It’s really unbelievable that anyone could do that bad of a job putting out one form. I’m not buying their “stronger server” garbage at all, especially if you were getting erratic results. Bad planning, improper architecture and poor execution are the most likely culprits.

  • LisaDC

    The other aspect of the on-line/analog form debate, is that APS practically demands that they be filled out and returned the next day. The children are made to believe that they will be in trouble if their parents don’t return the forms immediately. So when I got home from work at 6:30, after making dinner, and a few minutes of conversation about my son’s first day of school, I had a packet of paper an inch thick to fill out before the next day. Plus signing off on all of the individual teacher’s paperwork to prove that I am aware of each percentage point each assignment counts for. So when I was kicked out of the system at 11:30 after the third time of entering 3 alternate emergency contacts, insurance info, etc., I was pretty frustrated too. The site was functional this morning however, and supposedly, I’ll never have to fill out those forms again, just update the info as needed. Moving on as well.

  • Pablo Escobar

    @Chouse – Pablo Escobar proposes a compelling argument: This not important because bombs, terrorism, 9/11, troops, America, America, go back to Russia, First Amendment, Stars and Stripes, my dad is a vet, I’m a vet, Hummer, Blonde and in charge, Don’t tread on me, and so on.

    • drax

      If people complain about online forms, the terrorists win.

      • brendan

        they already have…

        • Buddy by Jake

          Is that the bartender at the Arlington Rooftop?

          • Hey now…

            No need to be picking on a place totally our of context if you don’t like it. 🙁

          • Novanglus

            Seriously, Buddy’s right, she looks like one of the bartenders at Arlington rooftop. Yogi’s niece or daughter, maybe?

          • Fair enough

            Hahaha… oh ok, if it’s an actual person. 😉 Honestly, I have a couple guy friends that work there, but I’m only there when they’re behind the bar so I must’ve missed her, but I’ll keep an eye out.

        • Johnny Utah

          Don’t lie. You would hit it.

          • chris

            I’d hit it…

  • charlie

    the schools have a long history of collecting inappropriate information on their students.
    Religion?
    schools need to get back to TEACHING and less ADMINISTERING.

    • Carole

      There was nothing on the forms about religion. They mostly wanted to know contact info for parents or guardians, who to call if they can’t reach me in an emergency, doctor, allergies, medical info if they send my kid off in an ambulance and I’m not there, etc. Stuff that I would want them to know.

    • speonjosh

      “schools need to get back to TEACHING and less ADMINISTERING”

      That is just comic.

      I don’t even know what it means.

      charlie, have you ever played Plants vs. Zombies or whatever that game is called? Have you seen when the crazy neighbor comes out with the pot on his head and speaks incoherently? This is how I picture you.

      “schools need to get back” – when was this mysterious and magical time in the past?
      ” to TEACHING” – what would that look like, exactly?
      “less ADMINSTERING” – so you’re saying anarchy is the way to run a school? Actually, I tend to agree with you here – the public school institution does far too much that serves the institution and not the kids. But…it IS an institution. ADMINISTERING is a big part of what it DOES. Education without administering is called home schooling or tutoring or the school of hard knocks or something like that. It doesn’t happen in a public school in America.

      • charlie

        nice touch. go get your brown flip flops and go for a walk and get some fresh air.

  • School Office Staff

    I’m an APS employee who actually handles the first day packet materials that all students are asked to return during the first week of school (as stated on the outside of the envelope).

    I am very happy to have these forms filled out ONLINE. Folks do not take the time to PRINT CLEARLY on the forms, making it near-impossible at times to decipher emergency contact information. What parents may not know is that the following information you fill out online is automatically updated in our student information system: Your home, work, and cell numbers; e-mail; and your emergency contact’s phone number(s); and your pediatrician’s name and phone number. This saves an extraordinary amount of time: some schools have close to 2,000 student records to update each year. We are required to update each student’s information each year.

    Another bit of info for parents to know: the office staff gets a PDF of all forms filled out online each morning — ready for printing and distribution.

    Thank you to the parents who have already done their first day packets online — if you were timed out or faced a crashed server, please try again. It really does help the staff at the schools and makes sure that information is accurate across the board. If you prefer to do this on paper, thank you, too! In the end it’s about making sure we know what parents prefer we do in case of an emergency.

    (an office staff person doing this on her lunch break not using any APS technology)

    • drax

      Thanks for noting that on-line forms (when they actually work) make for better and more efficient administration and aren’t just a convenience for parents.

    • ZoningVictim

      You print and distribute electronic forms? Isn’t one of the points of going electronic to save the environment by not using so much paper? Why print an electronic form that you can search for, find and call up in seconds from any web enabled device with an internet connection (on most computer system, not sure about APS’).

      • drax

        You want to pay for that with a tax increase, ZV?

        • ZoningVictim

          It’s supposed to save money, not cost extra, and the system is already built. My point is why we are spending money to automate the system and then spending money to print out the information people enter into the system.

          • drax

            And my point was that your idea, which is certainly a good one, might cost even more money, at least in an initial investment. But you’re right, probably not that much these days.

      • Typer

        I thought the statement in the APS staffer’s comment about printing and distribution was a reference to the directories that the school PTAs produce for the families.

        I still haven’t had time to do either the online or the paper forms, but I guess I’m glad I didn’t waste any time trying to fill them out online last night. Now I need to stop procrastinating and finish my work so I can fill forms out later.

      • School Office Staff

        Yes, we print hard copies. These copies go with the nurse during evacuations of the building and provide information to staff when there is no power or acess to the student information system. We have paper copies in our office emergency/worst case scenario kit, per the fire chief and chief of police.

        • School Office Staff

          And the software is not web-based at this time.

        • School Office Staff

          *access*

  • Ann of Tan Gables

    I heard there was a problem last night. I tried a couple of times, couldn’t do it, and gave up. I did it this morning, and it was a snap.

    So a round of applause to the people who were presumably up all night fixing things.

  • alebt

    ANSWERS FROM APS:
    Dear APS Parents:

    We wanted to take this opportunity to encourage you to complete your student’s “first day packet forms” online this year. We know many parents experienced some problems last night and we wanted to let you know that the problems have been resolved, and to provide you some information along with our sincere apologies for any problems you may have experienced.

    Yesterday afternoon, two separate problems occurred which may have affected your online experience with APS. First, the new, online registration forms site received much heavier traffic than we expected. This is great news, but the sudden increase in demand caused the server to become overloaded. Recognizing the increased need to support this new service, last night our Information Services team moved the online forms center to a stronger server to accommodate your service needs.

    At the same time, unfortunately, SchoolWires, the APS website vendor, experienced an unexpected problem which caused our website not to function properly. They were able to restore service by about 11 p.m. last night. They are still investigating the cause of the problem but initial reports indicate that a virus or worm infected the server and deleted important files. Using backup files, they were able to bring our website back online.

    These problems couldn’t have happened at a worse timethe first day of school! But please be assured that we were aware of the problems and worked last night to restore full service as soon as possible.

    Fortunately, this morning, all systems are back. Please accept our sincere apologies for any difficulties you may have experience, and thank you for your patience and understanding

    • Lee-n-Glebe

      Oops. Sorry – your post wasn’t up yet when I posted mine.

      • alebt

        No worries- I am glad to get a detailed description of what happened. It sounds like they had an unfortunate set of events. I do still wonder what they thought the initial first day utilization rate was going to be and why they were surprised by the heavy volume when they announced the link wouldn’t be live until the first day of school and, as someone pointed out earlier, there is such a big push with kids to get the forms in ASAP.

        • Lee-n-Glebe

          I didn’t understand either why they forced the rush by not making it live until Day 1. I know I would have done it early if I could have.

          • Sue

            I agree. There didn’t seem to be the need to wait until yesterday morning to go live. They should have anticipated the traffic.

          • drax

            Maybe it has something to do with finalizing registration first. Maybe they don’t want forms from kids they don’t know for sure are students at that school yet. Or whatever.

  • Lee-n-Glebe

    As of 5 min ago in my inbox:

    Dear APS Parents:

    We wanted to take this opportunity to encourage you to complete your student’s “first day packet forms” online this year. We know many parents experienced some problems last night and we wanted to let you know that the problems have been resolved, and to provide you some information along with our sincere apologies for any problems you may have experienced.

    Yesterday afternoon, two separate problems occurred which may have affected your online experience with APS. First, the new, online registration forms site received much heavier traffic than we expected. This is great news, but the sudden increase in demand caused the server to become overloaded. Recognizing the increased need to support this new service, last night our Information Services team moved the online forms center to a stronger server to accommodate your service needs.

    At the same time, unfortunately, SchoolWires, the APS website vendor, experienced an unexpected problem which caused our website not to function properly. They were able to restore service by about 11 p.m. last night. They are still investigating the cause of the problem but initial reports indicate that a virus or worm infected the server and deleted important files. Using backup files, they were able to bring our website back online.

    These problems couldn’t have happened at a worse time—the first day of school! But please be assured that we were aware of the problems and worked last night to restore full service as soon as possible.

    Fortunately, this morning, all systems are back. Please accept our sincere apologies for any difficulties you may have experience, and thank you for your patience and understanding.

  • brendan

    What?!?! Anyone else find this entirely ridiculous?

    “At the same time, unfortunately, SchoolWires, the APS website vendor, experienced an unexpected problem which caused our website not to function properly. They were able to restore service by about 11 p.m. last night. They are still investigating the cause of the problem but initial reports indicate that a virus or worm infected the server and deleted important files. Using backup files, they were able to bring our website back online.”

    The software we use to process these forms has been compromised and we don’t know how or the extent of it but please by all means continue to submit highly personal information…

    Worst IT update ever.

    • Newt

      agreed. However, I’m also a bit skeptical of the “it was a virus” explanation. That is often an excuse. Also, just because the site itself is managed/hosted by SchoolWires doesn’t meant that this particular application and data are going through SchoolWires.

      • Novanglus

        Yeah, that’s a worrisome way to phrase it. But Newt is right. Schoolwires is just the website. The online form system is on a different server running different software.

  • No Complaining

    Actually, the APS staff have been undergoing terrible IT service for the last few years, with the last two weeks having all kinds of glitches and software updates unavailable. A new email system goes in and out of operation throughout each day. It is a miracle the parent form filling thing worked at all.

  • Every I.T. Guy In The World

    Sheesh. All they had to do was turn it off and turn it back on again. If that didn’t work, they just needed to reset their profile.

  • Mickey

    Yeah, a worm….and I have a bridge to sell too! What a pack of smoldering stuff in the yard! Worm? The only worm is the one who designed a system using tax money that doesn’t work!

    • drax

      It had a glitch for about 24 hours. It’s working fine now. Get over it and drop the tea party rhetoric.

      • Sergeant Obvious

        Pretty sure he was talking about the APS computer system, which doesn’t work, and which was paid for by Arlington Resident tax dollars. Granted, the syntax was somewhat confusing, but pretty sure there wasn’t anything political about Mickey’s statement.

      • TomInArlington

        I agree w/Mickey.

        Sounds more like they didn’t pre-test this much, forced the rollout and the volumne crashed their servers. “A worm,” …right.

        Similar charlie foxtrot is happening in schools with the launch of new operating system on students’ and teachers’ computers’ My sources tell me they’ve had all sort of problems and that it was not tested beforehand to see that it would work.

        With all this new stuff launching at schools opening, you think the head IT guy would have been around and not off on a long family vacation / (job search?) out of state.

  • dallynd

    Just make it available much earlier so the demand isn’t so high. Or if you have multiple kids, take the form, fill out all the common stuff (99% of it) photocopy then put in their name and DOB.

    The Arlington County website … now there’s a clunky mess that nobody seems to be fixing. It routinely crashes on the first day of registration for activities and for summer camp. There you can’t even walk a form in to a human being anymore.

    • Arlington = Mayberry

      At least they still print and deliver class/summer camp catalogues. I shudder when they put those online only too.

  • Civic Activist

    The commentary on this issue could have been shortened signifiantly if people remembered the motto of APS: “No Excuse Left behind.”

  • doug

    Hmmmm…interesting reactions.

    Online forms don’t work and we are filled with moral outrage.

    Behind the scenes, No Child Left Behind continues with it’s quiet devastation and no one cares.

    There are whole years in the education of your children when subjects such as science and social studies are more or less ignored.

    There are weeks and weeks where the education of your children consists of test prep.

    There are hours and hours of teacher time devoted to the minutiae of testing, rather the preparing meaningful and engaging lessons.

  • APS teacher

    As I posted last week, APS took on too many technology changes at once, and the online forms are just one example of the expensive debacle going on in the county. New operating system, new email system, new website, new grade book, new forms, new software programs, new wireless system… guess what? Nothing works. It does not seem like anybody did any testing before rolling these initiatives out ALL AT ONCE, and they’re surprised that things aren’t working seamlessly. I’m no IT person, but I do know that you shouldn’t change everything at once, no matter what you’re doing. The start to the school year has been hell for staff who can’t check email, access course materials on Blackboard, or even PRINT!

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