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Articles: Business & Finance

The opt-out movement shows no signs of slowing in the midst of this year’s spring testing season. An estimated two-thirds to three-quarters of a million students could chose not to take state standardized tests this school year.

Guthrie Virtual School provides state-mandated Spanish instruction to about a half-dozen remote Texas towns that couldn’t afford to hire a full-time certified teacher.

  • The Duval County School Board reconceived six schools to focus on early learning, autism, arts, military leadership and advanced studies.

Last summer, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti spearheaded the program and boundary changes to improve low performance and offer stronger educational options to attract students back to traditional public schools.

Forced to make grade reconfigurations, Island Trees School District in New York created Michael Stokes Elementary School, for grades 2 through 4, above, out of a K4 elementary school building to save money and to use staff more efficiently.

School leaders nationwide are exploring innovative group-level groupings and thinking beyond the typical K5 elementary school, grades 6 through 8 middle school and grades 9 through 12 high school model to figure out how to continue to deliver appropriate education with fewer funds.

Students from Minford High School in Ohio visit with therapy dog Bella after a fellow student was killed.

Here are some tips from Jen VonLintel, of School Therapy Dogs: 

Find studies that show benefits. A binder of research and examples of dogs working in schools can be key to gaining the support of top administrators and/or the school board. Include insurance documents, training data, vet certificates and reports on progress made by students who have worked with therapy dogs.   

The Upsala Area School District in Minnesota created incentives that have enticed teachers like Heather Johnson, from Upsala Elementary School, to retire when the school year ends.

For many districts, early retirement incentives are considered a good business practice—a way to cut top-heavy payrolls and replace teachers whose heart may no longer be in the classroom. But without good planning, these incentives can have unintended financial and academic costs. 

Teachers are coming out of classrooms to build trust with parents. Teachers visit K8 students in the fall to learn more about families. A second home visit in the spring is about building academic skills and sharing information.

In many partnerships that bring businesses and schools together, a private or nonprofit third party serves as a bridge to the most successful collaborations.

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) offers extracurricular STEM activities, including an international high school robotics competition, to more than 400,000 K12 students nationwide, with mostly school-based robotics or younger LEGO League teams in 86 countries.

32 states and the District of Columbia raised funding levels of preschool programs

Total state funding for preschool programs rose by $767 million, to a total of nearly $7 billion. In the 2015-16 budget year, 32 states and the District of Columbia raised funding levels of preschool programs—ans support stemmed from both sides of the political aisle.

Collaborations between businesses and districts run deeper than internships. Business representatives help districts create curriculum and train teachers. They also volunteer as coaches and mentors to help students gain college and career readiness skills.

In the mountains of western North Carolina, administrators in Buncombe County Schools have seen a steady rise in the number of its 25,500 students who are homeless, food-insecure and involved in domestic violence.

The amount of money raised annually by nonprofit parent-run organizations soared from $197 million in 1995 to $880 million in 2010.

The amount of money raised annually by nonprofit parent-run organizations soared from $197 million in 1995 to $880 million in 2010. Aggressive fundraising to support athletic teams, buy school equipment and funds field trips further widens disparities between affluent and economically challenged districts.

Pomona USD in California has raised its graduation rate to 88 percent. The turnaround began when Pomona formed partnerships with several community organizations and nearby colleges.

No matter how cutting-edge the technology or advanced the curriculum, students have a hard time mastering essays and equations if they’re hungry, traumatized or feeling marginalized by a textbook’s inaccurate portrayal of their ethnic group.

Educators constantly face new challenges that often require resources that may be in short supply. But this round’s Districts of Distinction honorees show a surplus of exemplary creativity, innovation and problem-solving skills that are increasing student achievement and graduation rates and, most importantly, facilitating education.

Paula Love, the “Funding Doctor,” brings decades of experience to developing grant strategies for state and local educational agencies, schools and institutions. She writes DA's monthly School Funding Report.

More than 50 percent of curriculum directors anticipate a significant conversion from print to digital materials within the next three years. And it appears this shift is about to get a big boost from the Every Student Succeeds Act.

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