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District Administration, February 2016

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Cover Story

Superintendents are turning to an array of new and creative strategies, such as starting the hiring process earlier, looking farther afield for recruits, offering perks and signing bonuses to new hires, and ramping up efforts to help candidates earn teaching credentials.

Features

The health risk posed by products with potential carcinogens that pushed Columbia Public Schools in Missouri to adopt simpler, more cost-effective—and ultimately greener—methods. Yet, most district leaders say removing all chemicals is nearly impossible.

When Tullahoma City Schools administrators started shopping for new social studies textbooks in 2013, they found only a few options aligned to new Tennessee state standards. Rather than wait for newer textbooks to be released, the district embarked on the ambitious project of creating its own.

The way schools across the country use space has changed. The growing number of administrators now building and renovating education spaces have made student experience a top priority. Educators seek new designs that accommodate collaboration along with 1-to-1 programs and other technology initiatives

Superintendents are turning to an array of new and creative strategies, such as starting the hiring process earlier, looking farther afield for recruits, offering perks and signing bonuses to new hires, and ramping up efforts to help candidates earn teaching credentials.

Luvenia Jackson knows students can’t learn when they’re in jail. During 40 years in education, the Clayton County Public Schools superintendent has seen that academic performance cannot improve systemwide under zero-tolerance discipline.

District CIO

A convergence of market maturity, increased availability of high-capacity bandwidth and a track record of security has more K12 districts trusting their mission-critical administrative software to the cloud.

Online learning activity in public districts has overtaken state-level virtual schools and charters, according to the 12th annual “Keeping Pace with K12 Digital Learning” report, released in December.

Opinion

Efforts to address the achievement gap have taken an innovative path in Connecticut. In response to the call from legislatures disgusted with 25 years of NAEP data trends that showed little improvement in closing gaps, a task force was created to examine the disparities.

Is there a motivation problem with teachers in your district? If so, you’re not alone. It’s a common problem, particularly once the school year is under way and there are multiple demands on teacher time.

Solutions

Tucked among the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia is a high-poverty school district that looks a lot like the United Nations. And helping Kurdish, Eritrean and Paraguayan refugee students become part of the social fabric is something Harrisonburg City Public Schools Superintendent Scott Kizner is most proud of.

Briefings

Traditional parent-teacher conferences may go the way of dial-up internet as administrators experiment with innovative family engagement programs to increase student achievement, experts say.

Fewer than half of high schools and only one-fifth of middle schools offer comprehensive sex education, according to a December report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Guilford County Schools in North Carolina raised $35 million last year to help fund every high school student’s college education in full.

Photo Essay: A ball pit, trampoline, squeeze machine, swing, balance beam and tactile boxes offer a sensory break from overstimulation—bright lights, loud noises and constant motion of a classroom—to elementary students at Woodbury City Public Schools in New Jersey.

An alliance of New York schools continues to drop high-stakes tests in favor of performance-based assessments as the opt-out movement gathers steam.

Anonymous apps popular among high school students continue to create problems for administrators looking to root out cyberbullying and threats of violence.

Cedrick Gray of Jackson Public Schools in Mississippi was named 2015 Superintendent of the Year by the National Alliance of Black School Educators in November. The award goes to an administrator whose leadership has brought significant improvements for students of African descent.

A number of schools fail to provide routine care such as blood sugar monitoring and insulin shots for a growing number of diabetic students—in violation of federal law, health experts say.

The No Child Left Behind Era officially ended in December as President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The new law has been hailed by education leaders as an important re-correction.

Departments

New York University education professor Jonathan Zimmerman’s new book looks at the history of sex ed and how schools can use technology and connections with community groups to give students the information they want about healthy behaviors.