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Articles: Business & Finance

Superintendent John Rouse of Rains ISD in Texas is reaping the benefits of a 200-year-old state law.

Superintendent John Rouse sits on a jackpot of sorts—chief of Rains ISD in a community not far from Dallas, he says a little luck helped his district acquire about $8 million. The story starts two centuries ago.

Kate Ford is the area superintendent in Los Angeles for Aspire Public Schools.

Building a strong, empowered community is at the heart of any successful education institution and is transformative in the lives of students, educators and parents.

While teachers and students are key participants in achieving academic success, parents are the glue that holds everything together. Many parents in our communities work multiple jobs, with irregular schedules, making it challenging for even the best-intentioned parents to stay involved with their child’s academics.

A staff member and students in the Upper Moreland Township School District in Pennsylvania take a walk as part of the intermediate school wellness initiative. The program keeps all staff motivated to be fit and healthy.

Districts are getting creative in how they address the need to rein in costs and still provide employees with good benefits. They can’t resolve some issues, such as the definition of a full-time employee (the Affordable Care Act uses 30 hours). But unconventional thinking is yielding ideas that other districts can learn from.

Combating a $1.1 billion deficit, Chicago Public Schools’ new budget proposal phases out district pension contributions for central office, regional and non-union support staff. The district says the change will save about $11 million annually once fully implemented in 2018.

A state-mandated $676 million pension contribution accounts for a large chunk of the deficit, district officials say. Unlike most other districts in Illinois, Chicago and its local taxpayers are required to pay 7 percent of the 9 percent pension contribution for all employees.

Click to enlarge: Five steps districts can take to save money on edtech purchases. (Source: Foundation for Excellence in Education)

As the lines between instructional and technology budgets blur, CIOs can improve their district’s procurement procedures to get what their classrooms need from an increasingly complex edtech market.

Cave Creek USD had three unfilled teacher positions last year. This year, administrators are offering a signing bonus to attract new teachers to the area.

Many classrooms will remain without a permanent teacher this fall, as the teacher shortage becomes more severe in some states. Major enrollment drops in teacher prep programs signal worsening conditions in the coming years.

Schools are the center of the community and when schools are transformed in positive ways, communities are transformed. The continued rise of poverty is not surprising when policies and practices that could contribute to eliminating poverty are not addressed well. The foundation of systematic oppression is rooted in practices that contribute to a system becoming self-perpetuating because the conditions are institutionalized and habits are formed that are not interrupted.

The average family spends $669 on clothing, electronics and other back-to-school supplies before classes begin each year. And in recent years, more school districts have received a share of the profits.

State-of-the-art science labs, green buildings and internet upgrades are among major trends in school construction this year, as districts break ground on large projects that address aging facilities, increased enrollment and technology needs, according to the first annual DA School Construction Survey.

The above chart, from United Educators’ “2011 Public Schools Claims Report,” shows the dollar cost of claims for each category of bodily injury among district employees across the nation. (Click to enlarge)

A few years ago, San Francisco USD had questions about the hundreds of community-based organizations teaching reading to students and growing school gardens, among a wide range of other activities. Administrators wanted to know the risks of outside groups using school facilities.

Leslie T. Fenwick is dean of the School of Education at Howard University. Her upcoming book is "Jim Crow’s Pink Slip: Public Policy and the Near Decimation of Black Educational Leadership After Brown."

Leslie T. Fenwick has been praised as “a fearless voice in education on behalf of communities of color.” Her upcoming book, Jim Crow’s Pink Slip, will examine the cultural and social implications of educational policy as it relates to race equity and the principalship.

Paula Love, the “Funding Doctor,” brings decades of experience to developing grant strategies for state and local educational agencies, schools and institutions.

As students return from summer, school doors open wide to many continuing and emerging challenges. Administrators stand just inside their buildings, facing a changing landscape of diversity, new technologies, urgency over increasing student performance—and major trends in federal education policy, and including:

New National Association of School Nurses president Beth Mattey is the school nurse at Mt. Pleasant High School in Delaware.

Beth Mattey was named president of the National Association of School Nurses in June. Mattey is the school nurse at Mt. Pleasant High School, part of Brandywine School District in Delaware. In her remarks at the group’s annual conference in June, Mattey said that school nursing is the foundation of healthy schools.

Principal selection has not significantly changed since the 1950’s and is often unsystematic. While the role of the principal has evolved greatly over the last 60 years, the methods used for selection have remained stagnant. In the 1950’s, principals’ duties centered primarily on staffing and facility management. Today, school principals may be responsible for tens of millions of dollars between facilities, personnel, and discretionary funding.

Brandon Palmer, a national board certified teacher, conducts research on principal selection.

The continuous cycle of improvement is a paradigm often used in education to explain activities that result in personal growth through reflection. So the interview process—when enhanced by constructive feedback sessions—can also be used to provide professional development to prospective teachers and administrators.