However, those schools that do use it - primarily for reporting to parents every fortnight - raised fears that months of student work and reports would be lost if the network was scrapped when the existing contract ends on June 30.
In a memo to schools on Friday, education department deputy secretary Sonia Sharp said that from January 1 next year any school that wished to use the Ultranet ''will do so on an individual user-pays system''.
''Some schools are using the Ultranet for a range of activities, including report writing, online learning activities and communication with parents - but the take-up across the state has been much lower than originally anticipated,'' Dr Sharp said in the memo.
''Taking into consideration this usage level, costs to deliver the service and the operating environment, the department and NEC have initiated a six month transition period. Over this period, access to the Ultranet will continue for current users, allowing time for each school to determine the Ultranet's place in their future plans.''
The debacle is the latest in a string of government IT projects gone bad. The acting Victorian Ombudsman last year found public servants awarded lucrative taxpayer-funded jobs to their friends, associates and even to themselves in a serious and systemic breakdown of probity at the state government's IT agency CenITex.
The cost of the Victorian TAFE computer system, also commissioned under the previous Labor government to manage student records, has ballooned to about $100 million, well above its estimated cost of $65 million.
Queensland Health's payroll system debacle is still the subject of a parliamentary inquiry.
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