Westfield schools boosting security for personal data

WESTFIELD — Westfield Academy and Central School board of education members learned at their regular June meeting, that new state regulations intended to strengthen the security of personally identifiable information will soon be in effect.

WACS Superintendent David Davison told board members that the education law becomes officially effective July 1, and schools must be fully compliant by Dec. 31.

According to NYSED, the new regulations increase information security measures to safeguard the personally identifiable information of students and certain school personnel. The law outlines requirements for educational agencies and their third-party contractors to ensure the security and privacy of such protected information.

Davison said there are eight categories of new regulations that apply to public schools. Primary among these, is the mandate that the district must identify a privacy officer by July 1. This person will be responsible for data security and the district’s privacy program, he added.

Davison also informed the board that the personnel committee has completed interviewing the final two candidates for the position of secondary school principal. Ivana Hite, who has served at WACS for 32 years, will be retiring in August.

In another matter, the board listened to a proposal from business and computer applications teacher, Mary Jo Andalora, about a business class trip to Disney World.

The trip is offered through Disney’s Youth Education Series (YES) Program, Andalora said. Other local districts that were invited include, Dunkirk, Ellicottville and Silver Creek, she said. “We would share the transportation services with the three other schools,” she noted.

The students will participate in a Disney Leadership Strategies course and learn about three distinct leadership styles, Andalora said. This trip will also promote hospitality and tourism education, which is seeing increasing enrollment at the college level, she said.

Andalora said the learning objectives of the trip cover three areas. “We have the business objectives, the hospitality and tourism aspect, as well as objectives that tie into ELA,” Andalora said.

Andalora told the board that the trip is scheduled for April 30 through May 4, 2020, and juniors and seniors would participate. She presented a proposed itinerary and estimated costs to the board, with the total cost per student projected at $600.

Board members Deanne Manzilla and Phyllis Hagen inquired about fundraising for the trip. “It is a lot of fundraising in a short amount of time,” Andalora said. The board said they will consider the proposition.

In another matter, the board heard an update from Molly Anderson on the Smart Schools Investment Plan. The district was awarded $802,428 in the fall of 2017, Anderson reminded the board.

In the first phase, Westfield used these funds for laptops for students in middle and high school, interactive white boards and related technology items, Anderson said.

After assessing the needs of teachers and students and reevaluating the plan, it was decided to use the remaining $214,079 for more of the same materials, Anderson said.

The board subsequently approved the Smart Schools Investment Plan as presented. Board members also approved three change orders in the capital outlay project, allowing for the purchase and installation of: 13 blue lights and two switches; a monitor, wiring and access control at the front entrance; and a “speak through” device at reception.