DeKalb Schools’ software integration project to cost millions more

The DeKalb County School District headquarters, at 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd. in Stone Mountain (AJC FILE PHOTO)

Combined ShapeCaption
The DeKalb County School District headquarters, at 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd. in Stone Mountain (AJC FILE PHOTO)

The DeKalb County School District’s plans to migrate to a new software system for more functionality and better workflow hit a snag that will take two more years — and more than $5 million — to address.

The DeKalb County Board of Education selected Tyler Technologies’ Munis system through a bidding process in 2016. The software integration plan was expected to cost about $12 million to be complete in 2019. Instead, Interim Chief Financial Officer Robert Morales said, the project saw delays from leadership turnover and repetitive training during the process that will delay completion til 2022.

“It’s time to hit the reset button,” Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson told the DeKalb County Board of Education during its winter board retreat Monday at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center in Atlanta. “There are some challenges in the process.”

Morales said about $10.8 million of $12.8 million budgeted to integrate functions into Munis, a cloud-based single administrative system, already has been spent. About $5.5 million is needed to get the project back on track. Most of the initial funds — $12 million — came from the Education-Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax V funds. About $4 million of the additional costs would come from the district’s general fund.

Munis will bring together several district functions — including finance, purchasing and human resources — and is expected to improve processes as well as allow for better communication between departments.Several functions already are in play.

Leadership changes — including the departure of former Chief Technology Officer Gary Brantley, who officials said was leading the project, in 2018 — caused delays in the process.

“In hindsight, this should not have been strictly an IT project,” Morales said. “It should have been a collaboration of finance, human resources, operations and IT. There is an issue with staff skill set. There are data conversion issues. There was abandonment of Tyler’s project management methodology. ... And we have budget drain due to extended assistance with configuration and repeated training.”

Tyson said she’s confident the adjustments will address previous issues.

“These are legacy software solutions,” Tyson said. “You implement them over years, but the years it takes is worth it. They’re legacy solutions for a long time. You don’t go through this to rebid and switch.”