U.S. report finds schools unready for Y2K problems


WASHINGTON -- More than a third of the nation's public schools, colleges and universities remain unprepared for the havoc the year 200 computer problem could cause in their computerized systems, the U.S. Department of Education reported yesterday.

In a random survey conducted last month, the department found that about 60 percent of the schools were Y2K compliant, but the percentage of school districts saying they won't be Y2K-ready by Jan. 1 has doubled since summer.

If the computer problems are not corrected, the department said, everything from a school's payroll records, bus schedules and heating systems to sprinkler systems could malfunction. Problems could also arise with security systems, refrigeration and access to financial-aid records.

"A lot of school systems are cutting it very close, some are not going to make it, and I think that some are going to be in a difficult situation," said John Koskinen, chairman of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion.

Of the schools surveyed, 96 percent said they would be ready for Y2K by the end of the year. That leaves an estimated 2,000 elementary and secondary schools, and 230 colleges and universities, unprepared.

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