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Articles: Board of Education

The Illinois State Board of Education will determine each district’s financial status before distributing funds, in light of the revamping of state education funding. (Gettyimages.com: frankramspott).

Illinois has revamped state education funding to provide extra support to economically challenged K12 districts.

Managing leadership transitions is an organizational process with many moving parts, such as mentoring new leaders and engaging new employees throughout recruitment and onboarding.

Chicago is the first large urban district in the country to implement Learn.Plan.Succeed. (Gettyimages.com: miteemaus5).

Chicago Public Schools will require a new first-of-its-kind program to ensure all students leave high school with a post-graduation plan.

The challenge of finding curriculum materials in languages other than English is especially complex for districts embracing a growing trend: dual-language immersion programs, in which native English speakers join English language learners in studying academic subjects in two languages.

Many districts across the country struggle with increasing demographic homogeneity more than 60 years after the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. 

BoardPaq eases management of board of  education agendas and minutes at Ohio district

Prior to summer 2015, the process of putting board meeting agendas in the hands of the board members of Mohawk Local Schools in Sycamore, Ohio, was entirely manual. Administrative Secretary Jackie Messersmith would type up agendas and file them in large binders, which also held agendas and minutes from previous meetings. The binders were then hand-delivered to each board member.

In Monroe County School District in Mississippi, the superintendent is elected. But the board, above, has a working document in place, which means whoever is elected immediately becomes familiar with the district’s past work and future direction—and is ready to lead.

In many school districts today, hiring practices for administrative leaders often consist of “replacement filling”—or, waiting for a position to open up before searching for candidates. But a successful succession often requires more proactive planning.

Superintendent Michael Kuzniewski has increased graduation, testing and proficiency rates.

For decades, the J. Sterling Morton High School District in the Chicago suburbs was in bad shape. In 2008, when Michael Kuzniewski became superintendent, he vowed to change all that, with help from a new school board.

Plan divides the schools into an “old” district—a legal entity which will pay down debt over time—and a new debt-free district known as the Detroit Public Schools Community District, which will be given a $150 million startup loan from the state.

Georgia’s Gwinnett County Public Schools board and Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks, on right, work together to gain trust.

Although a strong partnership between school board and superintendent is widely seen as crucial to district success, administrators and the non-educators filling board seats do not always receive training in how a disparate group of individuals becomes an effective team.

Today’s education system is facing a debilitating threat in the form of a “trust deficit” that is undermining school and district leadership. As trust in our education leaders declines, so does student learning due to delayed education reform, decreased student achievement and fractured communities.

The superintendent of the K12 school district where I first taught held a drive each September to encourage teachers to join state and national education associations beyond our local union. We knew that participation, at least in the NEA—which functioned as a professional association in some states and a labor union in others—was not really optional, especially because our enrollment level at 100 percent was announced each year as a matter of pride.

Michael Flanagan, superintendent of the Michigan Department of Education and chair of the state board of education

SERVICE AWARD
Michael Flanagan, superintendent of the Michigan Department of Education and chair of the state board of education, received the Distinguished Service Award from NASBE. Since taking the job in 2005, he has spearheaded a push for more rigorous high school graduation requirements.

School districts working to close budget gaps are increasingly requiring parents to pay fees for their children’s textbooks, lab materials, computers, and after-school activities.

It’s a regrettable but widespread trend, says Bruce Hunter, associate executive director of advocacy, policy and communications at the School Superintendents Association. “The recession lasted longer and cut deeper than anyone thought it would,” Hunter says. “Districts try to charge as little as possible, because it’s not popular. It’s a last resort.”

PTA PRESIDENT
Otha Thornton was elected president of the National Parent Teacher Association, making history as the first African-American male leader of the organization. He previously served on the Georgia PTA board of directors, and the PTA’s national board of directors.

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