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At Raymond LaPerche Elementary School in Smithfield, R.I., Amy O’Hara, school data leadershp team member, far left, works with first-grade teachers Lena Martel and Laura Zucker to analyze reading test results and to determine specific skills to target.

A new bounty of academic data is guiding teachers as they adjust instruction in the hopes of boosting student achievement. Some districts are connecting “data coaches” with the teachers’ own professional learning communities to ensure this bounty of information fulfills its pedagogical promise.

A Grand Rapids Public Schools interventionist sits with students on an academic assignment while also discussing cooperation and working together—illustrating the teaching component to the restorative justice discipline method.

Districts large and small, urban and rural, are revamping discipline as increasing numbers of experts and educators find that zero-tolerance—and widespread suspension and expulsion—has been ineffective and even discriminatory.

Donna Schulze, above, is a paraeducator at Phelps Luck School in the Howard County Public Schools in Maryland.

Paraeducators are no longer on the periphery of the classroom. Now a significant part of the learning process, they are facilitating one-on-one and small-group instruction among special needs students.

Second-graders at Walker Elementary School in the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District use Follett’s Destiny Quest mobile app to locate digital resources in libraries and on Follett Shelf.

Taking away clerical work such as manual card cataloging and checking out books means librarians can spend more time working with students on research skills and digital literacy. With today’s automation software, librarians can give book recommendations and users need only a single portal to search for digital and print resources.

District leaders seeking to acquire more technology must decide whether purchasing or leasing is more cost-effective.

As the economy continues its slow crawl out of the recession, school districts that had put off capital purchases are now replacing outdated equipment and buying new technology. However, administrators are still considering large-scale acquisitions with caution.

Booster club members attend a session presented by the National Booster Club Training Council.

Sports teams in a growing number of school districts can only return to their fields, gymnasiums, rinks and pools each September with the support of parent-run booster clubs. As budgets tighten, these clubs, which have provided high school athletes with everything from uniforms to scoreboards to travel money for competitions or games, are expanding into elementary and middle schools.

Superintendent Joshua Starr of Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland crouches to speak with students in class. He is determined to support student programs during lean budget times.

Five years after the Great Recession officially ended, many superintendents continue to grapple with educating today’s students and preparing for tomorrow’s—with yesterday’s funding levels. The worst recession since the Great Depression lasted from December of 2007 to June of 2009, according to the federal government, and many superintendents are only now starting to glimpse limited financial relief.

From treating sprained ankles to administering daily medication to checking asthmatic children, school nurses are handling more cases of student illnesses now more than ever. They are also being stretched to cover more ground in a  district, and work harder given recent budget cuts.

It’s 7:30 on a Monday morning at Bethany Elementary School in Beaverton, Ore., and Nina Fekaris is crouching on the playground, busily picking up peanut shells left from a weekend community party. Fekaris, a nurse for over 20 years in the Beaverton School District, checks her list of students with peanut allergies to make sure they are kept inside the school building and out of harm’s way until all of the shells are picked up.

Districts around the country are facing a growing trend of children attending school without vaccinations for contagious diseases such as measles, chicken pox, rubella, hepatitis A and B, and whooping cough.

In a 2012 study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that almost 5 percent of kindergarten students around the country were not fully vaccinated. Colorado had the lowest rate of vaccinations nationwide, which was 87 percent.

insulation systems on school buildings is key to making a district’s investment last. Below, a maintenance worker repairs flashing adhesives on a school roof, which help seal the roof and prevent water leaks.
Before windows were replaced at the Harmony School in Bloomington, Ind.
After the windows were installed. Marvin Windows and Doors made sure the new and functional windows were also aesthetically pleasing, matching the school’s building style.

Administrators budgeting for construction have the tools and access to ensure their buildings’ shells—the roofs, windows and insulation—are energy-efficient and easy to maintain. There are many issues to consider—here are some guidelines.