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Articles: Business & Finance

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.

Students visited Paris on a trip organized through the Student & Youth Travel Association in July 2014. Some district administrators cancelled trips to popular destinations including Paris, New York City and Washington, D.C., in recent months after terrorist attacks or threats on those locations.

The November terrorist attack on Paris and ensuing threats to major U.S. cities led many administrators nationwide to cancel class spring break trips in efforts to keep students safe. The decisions, in many cases, disappointed students, parents and city officials in popular tourist destinations.

At the Tacoma School District in Washington, Heather Gooch is a substitute teacher at Mann Elementary School. Tacoma recently started using social media and paying subs more in harder-to-fill schools. It has improved the quality of subs there.

Amid a nationwide shortage, some districts have strengthened certification requirements, increased communication with substitutes and hired staffing agencies to keep their classrooms full.

Chris Bart and Margot Trevelyan's new book looks at how leaders communicate and inspire cooperation.

A Tale of Two School Principals: And the Superintendent Who Wanted to Lead Them is not your conventional leadership book. Told in a narrative form, the book is a journey of discovery as the characters learn to get to the deeper meaning and intent of a new district policy.

Administrators have a variety of responsibilities in managing a district, but certain tasks can be burdensome and can distract from the core mission of the school system. Purchasing, deploying and managing learning resources such as textbooks and other materials are time-consuming and costly tasks that can weigh down administrators. However, outsourcing these tasks to an experienced partner can increase efficiency, reduce costs and ensure that the right learning resources get in the hands of students.

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.