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Articles: Business & Finance

When hiring teachers districts should identify their needs and fix only what is broken, says consultant Joel Sackett

It’s no secret that having great educators in the classroom is one of the keys to fostering successful students and an effective school—but finding top-tier educators can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive.

The hiring process is especially challenging in today’s landscape, as most states have made dramatic cuts to education funding since the start of the recession.

Nathan Levenson, senior managing director of the District Management Council, says school budgets will continue to be tight in coming years.

District budgets are likely to be tight for years to come, experts say—and a new report outlines strategies administrators can use to spend wisely during financially constrained times. “Spending Money Wisely: Getting the Most from School District Budgets,” published in May, compiles savings tips recommended by superintendents, think tanks and professors.

Jerri Lynn Lippert was named the first female superintendent of the West Allegheny School District in Pennsylvania in June.

Jerri Lynn Lippert was named the first female superintendent of the West Allegheny School District in Pennsylvania in June. She was the chief academic officer of Pittsburgh Public Schools, and started in West Allegheny in July.

Safety, flexibility and energy efficiency are the forces driving new school construction as administrations create buildings to rival college facilities to prepare students for the technology-driven world they will find in college and the workforce.

A tornado safe room under construction in Moore, Oklahoma.

Tornadoes sweeping through parts of the nation and destroying schools are leading district leaders to create “safe rooms” for increased protection.

In May 2013, Moore, Okla., was hit by a tornado that destroyed two elementary schools and killed seven students. Moore Public Schools is rebuilding the schools with four safe rooms designed to meet Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) criteria to provide protection during tornadoes.

With new, smarter building technology to control energy use, school leaders can reduce their carbon footprint and use the money saved to fund projects that may have suffered from budget cuts. U.S. schools spend more on energy than they do “on computers and textbooks combined,” according to a past report by Energy Star.

“As much as 30 percent of a district’s total energy is used inefficiently or unnecessarily,” the report states.

Preschool students in the Granite School District receive Common Core-aligned instruction to prepare for kindergarten.

High-quality preschools in a Utah district began receiving funds from a first-of-its-kind, $4.6 million social impact bond from investment banking firm Goldman Sachs last fall. The goal is to improve instruction in order to prevent students from needing special education or remedial services.

Superintendent Garza speaks with an elementary student. Garza hopes to reduce achievement gaps between white students and minority students.

When Superintendent Karen Garza started her job at Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia last July, she had barely unpacked when she found a perfect storm of budget planning: increased enrollment, deferred retirement system contributions and a major uptick in students needing ESOL services.

Frank DeAngelis had been principal of Columbine High School in Colorado since 1996. After the shooting of April 1999, he promised the then-ninth grade class he would not leave until they graduated.

Frank DeAngelis, principal of Columbine High School in Colorado, retired in June. He had been the principal since 1996. After the shooting of April 1999, he promised the then-ninth grade class he would not leave until they graduated. In 2012, he graduated students who were in kindergarten at the time of the shooting.

A step for districts going paperless is to stop accepting cash or paper checks from parents. Many school systems have had vendors set up secure online portals where parents can pay for AP courses, lunches and field trips, among other items.

Go Public: A Day in the Life of an American School District is a recently-released documentary film about Pasadena USD that shows the challenges, triumphs and personalities of a moderate-sized public school system.

It was compromise that prevented a major teacher’s strike in February, as Portland Public Schools and the local union struck a bargain during an intense 24 hours of negotiating that ended months of deliberations.

Anoka-Hennepin district students in the seventh-grade technology education class.

In suburban Minneapolis, seventh graders will soon start building skills for local technical jobs that may be open to them when they finish school.

Before moving to Atlanta Public Schools, Meria Carstarphen superintendent of the Austin ISD.

Atlanta superintendent chosen

Meria Carstarphen was named superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools. She has served as superintendent of the Austin ISD in Texas since 2009, and helped raise graduation rates to an all-time high of nearly 83 percent in 2012. She will start the Atlanta job in July.

An AT&T employee volunteer, above left, helps a student in the Boys & Girls Clubs navigate a creative obstacle course to help motivate youth to be ready for successful transition into the upcoming school year.

Some of the world’s most powerful companies are increasing their influence in K12 education by funding programs that blend workforce development with public service. Corporate initiatives range from retail giant Target’s $1 billion plan to fund literacy programs to IBM’s high school STEM programs that aim to prepare the workers the company needs to fill its ranks.

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