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Government

Elmhurst Park District discusses aftermath of fall registration glitch

Elmhurst Park District Executive Director Jim Rogers remarks about the Vermont Systems Inc. software glitch and next steps for the district at the Aug. 13 Board of Commissioners meeting at The Hub at Berens Park.
Elmhurst Park District Executive Director Jim Rogers remarks about the Vermont Systems Inc. software glitch and next steps for the district at the Aug. 13 Board of Commissioners meeting at The Hub at Berens Park.

ELMHURST – Elmhurst Park District officials discussed during the Aug. 13 Board of Commissioners meeting how they are going to move forward after the software glitch that occurred during fall registration Aug. 4.

The latest glitch follows problems during spring registration in February and a successful summer registration in May.

Despite shifting from a server the Park District hosted to a server hosted by Vermont Systems Inc., the software still experienced a glitch that caused "unacceptably slow speeds" of registration, Executive Director Jim Rogers said.

People registering for programs were getting kicked out of the system and having to reenter because of the glitch, he said.

Rogers said the park board's ad hoc IT subcommittee and staff have determined that in the short term, the Park District needs to improve the method for processing registrations in advance of winter registration, which will be in December, and spring registration, which will be in February 2019.

Switching registration software vendors would be a "major undertaking" in training, setup and so forth, so the district wouldn't be able to do that quickly, he said. The district is considering holding registration for different types of programs on different days, which some community members have suggested via social media and some other park districts do.

Commissioner Tim Sheehan asked if separate registrations held different days for different programs would mean some families would need to fill out multiple registrations.

"Yes, it would," Rogers said. "And that's why always I've not wanted to go toward that since you are...reducing one [inconvenience] and adding another."

He said having different days for different programs would hopefully avoid people getting "jammed up in the system" and "getting kicked out of the system," but then registrants may encounter scheduling complications.

"And that's why we're going to continue to have the conversation about what better way can we find to do this," Rogers said.

Board Vice President Kevin Graf said "the biggest thing" they have heard from other districts is to incorporate mulitple days in the registration software process.

Commissioner Doug Ennis said the district doesn't want to hastily make a fix that might backfire, and instead officials should "dig deeper" into the data to make the best decision to address the issues.

Rogers said other districts and other vendors are experiencing similar problems with registration.

"We don't want to make a rash decision," Graf said. "We want to get through this next registration and then make an informed decision on where we need to proceed and come back with that recommendation."

In the long term, Rogers said, the Park District will conduct a thorough examination of alternative software options that might fit the community's needs, and it will probably solicit more feedback from the community to determine what would work best.

"People's frustration is very understandable and very palpable, and it shouldn't be happening," he said. "But the reality of it is that on that day, people get in. It's just that the process should not be as painful and as frustrating as it is."

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