SP board approves data mining contract

Thursday, January 13, 2022

As part of a focus on making decisions based on data from throughout the school corporation, South Putnam Schools will engage an analytics consultant to compile this data.

The South Putnam School Board approved a contract with EES Analytics in Crawfordsville to mine for data pertaining to academics and the corporation’s finances. However, one board member expressed concerns about sensitive information being exposed.

In making the request to approve the four-year deal, Superintendent Corey Smith provided that such real-time data which is now “very tedious” to find would be more accessible.

“From the academic standpoint, it allows us to take all the data that we currently get from all the different assessments that we give (and) put it all together in one place so we get a picture of each student and their academic performance,” Smith said.

As such, Smith specified more that decisions on interventions, the curriculum and scheduling would be based on the academic data. This, he said, would also give an idea on trends and potential gaps over time with visual representations.

In terms of cost, Smith said the service would be paid out of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) money. The per-student cost would bring the commitment to around $9,000 a year.

While Smith said the data would be secure with the “latest technology” in a cloud platform and be available only to administrators, he did not provide details in terms of assuring privacy with sensitive information like Social Security numbers.

“I’m not comfortable when we can tie children’s information then it’s exposed via the internet, whether it’s cloud or not,” board member Gregg Hinchman said. “Being in IT, I know how that works.”

Smith concluded that procedures would be set up so that administrators can access and work with the data once it is compiled. Ultimately, he said the hope was for the mining to “pay for itself.” In the end, Hinchman opposed approving the contract.

In other business:

• On a motion from Wes Hacker, the board approved to retain Hollie Hutcheson, Lisa Cooper and himself as the board’s president, vice president and secretary, respectively, for 2022.

• The board approved to retain Hilarie Logan and Terri Beasley as the corporation’s treasurer and deputy treasurer, respectively. Beasley was also approved as its privacy officer.

• The board approved to retain Lewis & Kappes and Sutherlin, Zeiner & Barclay as the corporation’s legal representation.

• The board approved for its regular meetings to continue being held on the second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m.

• The board approved updates to the South Putnam Middle/High School student and athletic handbooks.

The board also recognized South Putnam’s Students of the Month: Lincoln Rhine (Central Elementary School); Maitlyn Boyce (Fillmore Elementary School); Josey Helton (South Putnam Middle School); and Sarah Jones (South Putnam High School).

The board also approved the following personnel report:

• Resignations: Donald Pyles - Fillmore Elementary custodian; Jessica Stewart - Central Elementary food service; Rachel Burris - MS/HS instructional assistant; and Shirley Knauer - Fillmore Elementary custodian (effective Jan. 7);

• Employment: Ashley Crady - Central Elementary food service; Shirley Knauer - Fillmore Elementary custodian (effective Jan. 6); and Tim Parrish - Fillmore Elementary custodian (effective Jan. 10).

Logan and Beasley joined Smith and the entire board for the meeting.

Prior to the regular meeting, the board conducted an annual public finance meeting. Smith presented figures to the board, but did not go into details about what those entailed.

The next regular meeting of the South Putnam School Board is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. in the South Putnam MS/HS Learning Center.

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