State Board acts on new school laws

The State Board of Education approved a temporary rule this week giving school districts guidance on strategic planning and professional development.

The rule stems from a 2014 law requiring school districts and charters to develop strategic plans focused on improving student performance. House Bill 521 also allows districts and charters reimbursement of  up to $2,000 every year for professional development and training for superintendents and school trustees.

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Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls

The State Board rule sets out a list of qualifications for trainers and describes steps districts must take to be eligible for reimbursement. A list of qualified trainers will also be posted on the board website next month.

Rep. Wendy Horman pushed for the law this year. She said it satisfies two of the 20 recommendations issued last summer by Gov. Butch Otter’s Task Force for Improving Education – school strategic plans, and training for administrators and school board members.

In other action, the State Board reviewed a draft policy on student privacy and data collection. This year, outgoing Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, sponsored a student data security law that outlines which student data can and cannot be collected and shared. The law provides penalties of up to $50,000 for unlawfully releasing data.

The policy draft limits who is allowed access to data and provides that parents and guardians will be allowed to review their children’s educational records.

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Emma Atchley

“Protecting individual student data from inappropriate collection, use and sharing is of great importance to the board,” State Board President Emma Atchley said. “This policy is intended to help districts comply with state law and implement measures to safeguard student privacy.”

Before moving forward with the data security policy, the State Board is seeking input from school officials, trustees and the public. Anyone interested in providing feedback may e-mail research director Carson Howell.

The state board met Wednesday and Thursday in Idaho Falls.

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