Doomsday preditions avoided in IT transfer

Sherri Ybarra

BOISE — The transfer of IT employees from the State Department of Education to the State Board of Education went “smoothly,” according to the State Board, though state superintendent Sherri Ybarra warned the move would disrupt the system.

The Legislature voted to move the employees and the funding to the State Board earlier this year, saying it wanted a change in management over IT and data management. Legislators said Ybarra should stand aside as 18 employees and $2.7 million in funding was transferred on July 1, the first day of the state’s new budget year.

Ybarra fought the decision, filing a lawsuit and taking it to the Idaho Supreme Court, where she lost. In court, Ybarra issued dire warnings, saying the move would prevent her from doing her job and could be difficult on the employees and disrupt the system.

Fast forward two months. State Board Executive Director Matt Freeman said the transfer went smoothly, with only a minor mix-up and some ongoing logistical issues that are being worked through.

“Operationally, it went very smoothly,” Freeman said. “There was really only one minor mix-up with the employees’ insurance premiums that got double-deducted. But that was resolved very quickly.”

A key part of Ybarra’s argument was that the transfer would be disruptive and difficult because the technology system is the nerve center connected to everything the SDE does.

The data system was originally implemented in 2010-11. It is where data for all public school students and staff are housed. It is important because policymakers and staff use the data to make decisions, send out funding for schools and ensure compliance with federal reporting requirements.

School administrators should not notice any differences, Freeman said. The transfer does not change how schools submit and upload their data to the state.

The public might notice one change. The State Board is now in charge of the data system and fulfilling public records requests.

Department officials say the transfer is leading to inefficiencies and delays. The State Board also confirmed some logistical issues.

With the transfer complete, Ybarra oversees an SDE that now includes 124 full time positions and a general fund budget of $12 million.

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