There are two important themes that echo through most of the articles in this issue. The first is financial. The news in this year's second annual Spending Report on page 34 confirms what most of us already knew. The recession's noose has reached education.
With less being spent on just about everything from houses to electronic gadgets, it was inevitable that the impact would soon show up in less taxes paid to federal and state governments. This reduces the pool of money available to education just as the work for next year's budget begins in earnest.
But within this bad news lies opportunity. As long as times are tough, use the changes to shake up your district's budget. Instead of just looking for ways to save money, make every non-mandated item in the budget earn its way back into next year's plan. By doing this, you may actually free up enough money to implement some new programs that hold promise.
The second theme of this issue, communication, ties in nicely with budget deliberations. While we all know it's important to engage parents in their children's learning, it's also vital to communicate with parents and the community at large about your district's needs and problems. As our cover story about public engagement (p. 28) shows, solutions can be reached easier when all sides become part of the answer.
But don't let this lesson stop at the school's front door. Communication within a school-between students, teachers and police officers stationed in school-may have averted a crisis in New Bedford (Mass.) High School. It was information passed among these groups that may have kept some students from pulling off a Columbine-like attack on fellow students and teachers.
And to show that both these trends extend into DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION'S offices, we've started a new section in the magazine. District Plus is a place where we will share ideas to help our readers do their job better, whether their job is saving money or recruiting teachers. For this section to reach its potential, we're asking for your help. Drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what ideas help you do your job better.
Wayne D'Orio, Editorial Director