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Three quarters of respondents to a DA survey said funding for their district would increase or stay the same in 2015. (Click to enlarge graphic)

Navigating turbulent waters of uncertain budgets, district leaders have a great challenge: Answer the growing push for accountability and heightened community expectations in 2015.

Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson

Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson must review every proposed suspension of minority students to ensure equal treatment of all students. The policy, enacted in November, comes as the district approves a settlement with the U.S. Department of Education, which was investigating the district over its inconsistent suspension treatment for black students. The district is also reducing its police presence due to inconsistent policies in disciplinary matters.

Superintendent Arthur W. Tate of Iowa’s Davenport public schools has launched several programs to keep at-risk students from dropping out.

Superintendent Arthur W. Tate of Iowa’s Davenport public schools took over a 27-school district with nearly 16,000 students that had recorded the state’s highest urban dropout rate. The rate has been decreasing steadily, thanks to several programs Tate launched to keep at-risk students in school.

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy increased academic achievement and graduation rates but faced criticism over technology programs.

Superintendent John Deasy of Los Angeles USD resigned in October after reaching a settlement with the city’s school board. His 3 ½-year tenure included increased academic achievement and graduation rates in LAUSD despite economic hardships, the district stated.

Kent Scribner, in middle, celebrates witih Camelback High School students at their graduation last spring. He focuses on not just graduating students, but having them be prepared for college and life.

You could say it’s understandable that Kent Scribner’s hobby is working on a 1985 black El Camino. Refurbishing a car takes patience, dedication and an eye for potential. Those are the same qualities this superintendent has been bringing to the Phoenix Union High School District in Arizona since taking over in 2008.

Superintendent Casey Wardynski says students' social media accounts are review only if the district receives a tip.

Superintendent Casey Wardynski of Huntsville City Schools in Alabama said in September the district has reviewed social media accounts of some 600 students since January to respond to potential threats.

Students are investigated only if school officials receive a tip, he says. The monitoring came to light after the National Security Agency alerted the district to a potential threat a student made against a teacher on Twitter.

City of Fairfax Schools Superintendent Peter Noonan says PLCs take leadership from both teachers and administrators.

City of Fairfax Schools' leader has been a champion of professional learning communities for teachrs and administrators in large and small distrcits, and has seen results in increased AP participation, higher test scores and improved discipline.

Donald Aguillard is the superintendent of St. Mary Parish Public Schools in Louisiana.

With several schools in Academic Assistance and test scores lagging behind the state average, St. Mary Parish Public Schools (Louisiana) knew powerful change was needed.

S. Dallas Dance has raised test scores at Baltimore County Schools since becoming superintendent in 2012.

President Barack Obama in August appointed Baltimore County Schools Superintendent S. Dallas Dance to the Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. Dance has been superintendent in Baltimore County since 2012. He helped raise the graduation rate by 2.5 percent—to over 86 percent—between 2012 and 2013.

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.