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Professional Opinion

Consultant Jeff Marshall is the former risk manager for the School District of Philadelphia.

Education in crisis. To you, the phrase may evoke financial crisis, perhaps high dropout rates or maybe issues involving falling tests scores. But I am a risk manager. To me, when a school cannot open for a day, for a week, for a month or longer—no matter the reason—that is the essence of a real educational crisis.

Paul Finch is the superintendent of the Red Hook Central School District in Red Hook, N.Y.

What happened? This is what we at the Red Hook Central School District had to ask when we looked at our student achievement data.

In some cases, there was a mismatch between our beliefs about certain teachers and actual performance, as measured by student achievement data. Ultimately, our personal biases were exposed and this led us to rethink our hiring practices.

Christopher J. Librandi is an Connecticut-based attorney who practices business law, including information technology.

The age of textbooks and filing cabinets is coming to an end. Smart phones, tablets and cloud storage are the tools of the day.

Most students probably have their own devices by the time they reach middle school and most school districts use cloud services for record retention and data analysis.

Daniel Mahoney is vice president of risk control for Glatfelter Public Practice, a public entity specialist providing risk management services and insurance products to schools.

Medical emergencies can happen in any school at any time. They can be the result of pre-existing health problems, accidents, violence, unintentional actions, natural disasters and toxins. Premature deaths in schools from sudden cardiac arrest, blunt trauma to the chest, gunshot wounds, asthma, head injuries, drug overdose, allergic reactions and heat stroke have been reported.

Lisa Todd is deputy superintendent of schools at Greenbrier Public Schools in Arkansas.

Greenbrier Public Schools in Arkansas has always had a strong focus on using classroom observation to encourage positive growth within our schools. When I joined Greenbrier Schools about 12 years ago as the deputy superintendent, I had spent almost 20 years as a classroom teacher and district administrator.

Lindsey Hill, a two-time teacher of the year honoree is the lead for reading engagement innovation at Evanced Games.

Do we know why third graders in America are not reading at grade level? More than 50 percent of children in affluent homes and 80 percent of children growing up in less affluent homes are not reading proficiently. Reading drops off significantly after age nine. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent focusing on the act of reading, but little progress is being made when it comes to identifying the root of the problem.

No school is immune. Every school faces risks of harm, loss and vulnerabilities in their operations, with their staff and students, or against their facilities. The daunting task faced by administrators lies in knowing how to identify and proactively manage those risks to ensure the safety and security of staff, minimize the disruption to school or district operations, and mitigate the negative impact when adverse incidents occur.

The Board’s role in governance is vital to be successful in leading the school district. Although governance models claim to discuss the full role of the board, many provide only half of the board’s responsibilities. In the traditional method of describing a typical school board, the community elects trustees to represent them in running the schools. An organization chart shows the community at the top with elected representatives sitting on a board. They would hire a superintendent who operates the schools.

What is our true work as K-12 HR Leaders? Is it to process I-9s? To ensure compliance with FLSA? To attend job fairs, manage position control, and ensure there’s a substitute in every classroom every day?

Today’s education system is facing a debilitating threat in the form of a “trust deficit” that is undermining school and district leadership. As trust in our education leaders declines, so does student learning due to delayed education reform, decreased student achievement and fractured communities.

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