The Churchill County School District Board of Trustees met Thursday to discuss student data security and other programs.
The Nevada Department of Education’s Glenn Meyer, information technology director for the data system’s office, explained how student data tool Infinite Campus information is analyzed and used for decision making as well as how there are protections in place such as tier four storage facilities to keep data secure and prevent its misuse. (Tier four is the highest Department of Defense rated data security facility available.)
“All these instances of Infinite Campus are now together in one secure environment,” Meyer said. “We try to take all the steps we can to ensure student data is protected.” He touched on data encryption and how data is scattered across network layers for further protection.
Dr. Sandra Sheldon, superintendent of schools, added for clarification how when the state uses a contractor, that vendor is a contract-bound organization deemed necessary much like in the military. Contractors are held to FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and help the state perform its duties; they don’t indicate third-party data sharing.
Trustee Carmen Schank has expressed concern about the issue in past meetings and said Thursday a board member has the responsibility of oversight.
“I’m saying the more we collect data and the more lineal it is, the more there’s a potential for problems,” she said. “A train coming down the track is harder to stop.”
Meyer agreed if data exists, it could be hacked.
“There’s no system out there that can’t be hacked,” he said. “What I don’t agree with is that there’s nothing we can do about it. One of the first things is become aware, what’s out there, where it’s being stored and who has access to it.”
He explained how all the state’s districts have unique configurations that don’t speak to each other and only aggregate data (not tied to an individual) is reported to the federal government for decision-making. Student level data is for accountability and meeting student needs. State colleges give back aggregate information to high schools. He also said no reporting is done for a district with less than 20 students, using self-suppression and masking.
“Those are some of the things we do to try and prevent that linear linkage,” Meyer said. “We spend a lot of time going through data to identify those scenarios.”
Trustee Kathryn Whitaker summarized the Board should be making sure the data is being used wisely and for the benefit of students.
Phyllys Dowd, district director of Business Services, and Mark Harrison, district director of Dining Services, told how new meal service provider Chartwells has been doing including the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program, smooth point of sale transactions, new equipment and dining numbers.
The Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program has been operating in all four elementary schools since Sept. 20 with positive student reactions about variety. All staff has matching uniforms, and various schools have received warming ovens, salad bars, new stoves, steam tables, heated food displays and artwork for all locations will soon be installed.
The number of middle and high school meals purchased is growing, and the district is focusing on more elementary students taking advantage of the free breakfast (see related story).
“It’s a free breakfast,” Harrison said. “Nice nutrition, nice variety. At that age, you’d rather play than eat breakfast though.” He explained how students are choosing between breakfast and play time in what’s been beautiful weather. He’s thought about doing bagged breakfasts to bring the meals right to the playground.
Sheldon said they’ll be working on ideas, and she has been impressed with how quickly Harrison and his staff made their operations up and running.
“This is the best staff I’ve had the pleasure of working with,” Harrison said. “They’ve embraced all the changes.”
The next CCSD School Board meeting will be Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. in the Old High School auditorium.