A Message from the President Pro-Tem

Ken Jones, Lodi Unified School District

Recent events have required some changes to be made to the CEDPA Board of Directors.

CEDPA's president, Phil Branstetter, informed the board that he would not be able to complete his term of office due to the requirements of his new job. Through board action, I was appointed to complete Phil's term of office as President Pro-Tem.

Phil has been a long standing member of the Board and has contributed greatly to the success of CEDPA. He worked on many committees at the State and regional level and was always sure to make CEDPA extremely visible in whatever was going on. Phil's work at Riverside County Office of Education most notably included being one of the first test sites to electronically transmit student data between several Southern California County Offices of Education.

Phil has left the education field to join a start-up HMO in the Riverside area, and will be managing the operational aspects of the business (including MIS!). This new challenge is a big step up for Phil, and we wish him all the best in his new career.

As they say, if the reigning president is no longer able to serve, the duties fall upon the first runner up. No one is more surprised than I to be in this position. Fortunately the CEDPA Board's composition is prepared to support situations such as these by having veteran board members act as mentors for the newer officers. This forward planning has allowed the Association to continue to serve its membership throughout the years, even though the composition of the Board is in a constant state of flux. I will do my best to support the duties of Association president through the rest of this year and move CEDPA forward into the second half of the decade.

My personal philosophy on the position and responsibility of CEDPA in the K-12 community is very close to Phil's. We are very much at a crossroads with administrative technology in K-12 education. Three dynamic and opposing forces are at work in our industry. First, we probably thought that our house was in order for basic accounting and payroll functions. Surprise--desktop applications and graphical user interfaces have made our tried and true mainframe systems look archaic in the eyes of our user community. Inflexible data storage methods are not acceptable. Second, the year 2000 is just around the corner and most of these systems that store two digit dates will not function. We need to start making decisions today regarding the updating of the older systems or the purchase and installation of new systems. Third, the instructional community has looked across the aisle and discovered a resource that they desperately need to build the information infrastructure that they crave. These folks are a totally new breed of customer for most Information Systems shops, and we must shift gears to make our product both available and palatable to these folks. Not making Instruction your first priority, even in the face of these other dramatic needs, could easily prove fatal to IS. All this in the face of general budget cuts and downsizing.

On another note, DataBus editor Addison Ching has left Newport-Mesa Unified to join the Los Angeles County Office of Education. He has agreed to serve on the board and at the board's pleasure until the Fall conference. He will also continue as editor of The DataBus and will be responsible for producing the conference announcement and program.

So your IS shop was humming along just fine until this year and you suddenly discover that you need help. Where do you go? Well, (warning: blatant self-promotion follows) the CEDPA organization is made up of folks going through the same changes that you are and have designed the fall conference to maximize you ability to solve those problems. The keynote speakers will address our changing times and give insight into strategies for success. The breakout speakers will give us more nuts and bolts information in all these areas than any brain could possibly hold. Finally, the vendor show will allow you to meet the people who are likely to get us out of this mess. We warn the vendors as they are signing up not to send the fluffier of their salespeople. They know that they need to populate their booths with the top end technical people so that the tough questions we all needs answers to can be addressed.

The location of the conference is incredible. Regardless of your opinion on the San Jose area, the Fairmont Hotel is absolutely first rate. We know from working with the hotel staff in planning the conference that this is going to be one to remember. We hope to see you at the fall conference. You will not be disappointed!