Debt collectors are threatening schools that have failed to pay suppliers because the state government’s $397 million IT program that was supposed to revolutionise school management is in disarray.
Internal emails from principals show the implementation of the software program has been so problematic administration staff are taking stress leave and many are working chronic levels of overtime.
The so-called Learning Management and Business Reform program, which was being trialled in 229 schools, was designed to manage human resources, finance, payrolls and student information.
But the NSW Teachers Federation said schools should not have agreed to the trial and should withdraw from it.
The federation’s president, Maurie Mulheron, said ”thousands” of support positions would be axed and the software would only increase the workload on principals and teachers, diverting them away from the classroom.
Mr Mulheron said schools were ”bribed” with federal government funding to take part in the trial.
”This is not replacing old software, it will just replace people and this software is so powerful in its intent that it will change the face of principalship forever,” he said.
The emails, obtained by the NSW Greens, also outline a litany of other problems with the software including little support from help desks, minimal training and many bills not being paid on time.
The Greens MP John Kaye said the state government had rushed the rollout of a system that was not ready, imposing ”appalling” financial and personal costs on school communities.
”The goodwill and morale of school employees have been squandered by the rush to get the software system up and running in time to deliver the government’s Local Schools Local Decisions autonomy restructure,” he said.
”School administration staff, principals, teachers and students have been treated as expendable by a department that is only interested in meeting the government’s timetable for devolving school decision making.”
Public Schools Principals’ Forum head Cheryl McBride said the project was in chaos.
”The concept is a great one, there is no doubt about it, but at the moment it is a complete disaster,” Ms McBride said. ”In my 30 years working for the department, I have never seen anything like this.”
A spokesman for the Department of Education and Communities said it was the first finance system upgrade for schools since 1993 and implementation had been more difficult than anticipated.
”The department is working with vendors and school staff to resolve any payment issues as they arise during the transition to the new system,” the spokesman said.
He said the department was working with the Primary Principals Association, the Secondary Principals Council and the Public Service Association to ”address and resolve concerns”.