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Georgia’s Gwinnett County Public Schools board and Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks, on right, work together to gain trust.

Although a strong partnership between school board and superintendent is widely seen as crucial to district success, administrators and the non-educators filling board seats do not always receive training in how a disparate group of individuals becomes an effective team.

Landlines are out and internet-based phones are in for many schools this year, as the modernized E-rate program begins scaling back funds for traditional phone service.

Discount rates for long-distance calling, cell phones and other services will drop by 20 percent every year starting this year, as determined in the July 2014 E-rate Modernization Order adopted by the FCC. E-rate funds for email, web hosting, paging and phone directory assistance were completely eliminated this year.

Chart shows K12 financial literacy requirements across the nations (click to enlarge)

As today’s students find themselves deciding money matters long before adulthood, progressive districts are introducing financial literacy lessons in elementary and middle grades—with some requiring high school students to complete a personal finance program to graduate.

Mark D. Benigni is the superintendent of Meriden Public Schools. Miguel A. Cardona is the district’s performance and evaluation specialist.

Meriden, Connecticut, is a struggling, former industrial city, once known for its silver manufacturing, lamp producers, military product development, and automotive component assembly plants.

We were both born there, to parents who had little more than each other and a dream for their children. We were poor. We were the statistic.

Yet, just as we were unleashed from the grip of poverty, so too can millions of other children break free. We chose education as a profession because we wanted to make a difference in the lives of children.

Students at George Armstrong Elementary School in the Chicago Public Schools get lessons about money and finance. They learn about earning income and how to play a stock market game.

As today’s students find themselves deciding money matters long before adulthood, progressive districts are introducing financial literacy lessons in elementary and middle grades—with some requiring high school students to complete a personal finance program to graduate.

Privacy is key. At Carl Sandburg High School in the Consolidated High School District in Illinois, above, Chief Technology Officer John Connolly, on right, discusses with a teacher some of the data and privacy features to be aware of when working with different apps.

Attacks by external hackers on Sony and Target make big headlines, but in K12 the threats more often come from the inside. Plaguing districts with increasing frequency are distributed denial of service attacks that, for pure mischief’s sake, saturate servers with so many external communications requests that they cannot respond to legitimate school traffic.

Nine out of 10 students recognize the importance of developing technology skills early to ensure they are prepared to enter the workforce, according to new research published by CompTIA, an information technology industry association.

The September 2014 survey of 1,000 middle school students further found that most rate their tech skills as average or above. In the study—“The Changing Classroom: Perspectives from Students and Educators on the Role of Technology”—students also said they wanted more instruction in the following:

Predictive analytics is becoming more common in both public- and private-sector hiring.

Big data and analytics now offer districts some clues about which teacher candidates will be the most effective in the classroom.

These programs are designed to accurately gauge the impact teacher candidates will have on student test scores. Analytics companies such as TeacherMatch and Hanover Research are working with hundreds of districts nationwide to aid in the hiring process.

New York City students may soon learn formal lessons on climate change as a proposed curriculum continues to win endorsements from leading environmental groups.

Two groups, the Alliance for Climate Education and Global Kids, have been encouraging the New York State Department of Education to add climate change to the city’s K12 curriculum.

The effort, centered on Resolution 0375-2014 now before the New York City Council, was endorsed in February by The Natural Resources Defense Council.

Featured in Boston’s new history curriculum, this donated photo from Discovery Roxbury shows an integrated classroom at the city’s David A. Ellis School in the 1930s.

Though known as a cradle of American history in colonial times, Boston was also a hotbed of desegregation in the 1960s and 1970s.

Boston Public Schools has mandated a new curriculum to teach students about the civil rights movement in the city. The History of Boston Busing and Desegregation curriculum marks the 40th anniversary of the decision—which was controversial in 1974—to desegregate city schools and allow children to be bussed outside of their neighborhoods.

Presidio ISD, a remote, Title I, poverty-stricken Texas border district with a 98 percent Hispanic population, didn’t let limited financial resources block its goal of cultivating college-going ambitions among its nearly 1,400 students.

By leveraging a University of Texas partnership and creating a technology-infused community initiative, Superintendent Dennis McEntire and the district offered students remote access to learning opportunities over 200 miles away.

Tim Markley is superintendent at New Hanover County Schools in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Our growing district faced numerous facility challenges in the fall of 2013. The only way to address these needs was with a $160 million school bond—the largest in our district’s history. What made this campaign different for us was the extensive use of social media and a very coordinated information campaign.

Students served by Oakland USD’s Office of African American Male Achievement have increased GPAs compared to their peers.

Oakland USD created the Office of African American Male Achievement to develop a sense of pride and identity in the black male student community, in hopes of raising achievement and eliminating harmful discipline policies. Now, other large districts across the nation are following suit to close achievement gaps and to help this population reach college- and career-readiness.

Comfort dog Addie continues to help Sandy Hook Elementary students heal after the December 2012 shooting.
A student reads to Addie.
Teachers who must stay strong for students are often most in need of the dogs, handlers say.
Addie still visits a different Sandy Hook classroom each day. They help start conversations about hurts or fears among students.
A puppy in training to become a comfort dog takes a rest with an older pal.

Students who have lived through tragedy—from Newtown, Connecticut, to Joplin, Missouri—have found comfort in a source not often seen in schools: golden retrievers.

A northeastern Tennessee school district has more than doubled the daily salary of highly qualified substitute teachers to entice them to teach in low-income schools or those that are struggling academically.

A regular Knox County Public Schools sub is paid $68 per day, but an already certified teacher or district retiree can now earn up to $164.