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Database agreement difficult to swallow

Board left with few alternatives

Trustees for the Powell River Board of Education reluctantly voted in favour of signing on with the provincial government’s replacement for the current student common information database system.

“I am really disappointed that the government has gone this way,” said Aaron Reid, trustee.

The ministry of education has entered into a 12-year contract with Fujitsu Consulting (Canada) Inc. to provide the Aspen program, a replacement for the current British Columbia Enterprise Student Information System (BCeSIS).

In September 2011, after more than a year of performance issues and slow service, the ministry reported that the system would be replaced because the technology had become outdated.

The Saanich school district began work on its system specifically designed to meet the needs of BC districts, but was forced to scrap the $1.5-million project in March when the provincial government announced that its openStudent program would have to be compatible with the BC Services Card. This multipurpose health and identity card was an unknown requirement which would add millions of dollars to development costs.

Jay Yule, superintendent of schools for School District 47, said he thought the board did not have any other choice now that Saanich has backed out in terms of being able to provide the service.

“It’s a bit of a bitter pill for us to swallow,” said Yule. “We were supporters of the made-in-BC program that grew out of a school district and really understood the needs of students in the province much better. Unfortunately, the government hasn’t listened to the few school districts that wanted to see this program go through.”

Yule said he is hopeful that the Aspen replacement software will be better than what teachers and administrators currently use.

Fees outlined in the agreement are basically the same as BCeSIS, said Yule.

Although Fujitsu is a company based out of the US, BC student data will be housed in Kamloops, BC and Regina, Saskatchewan.