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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.

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:

Students from Richard J. Lee Elementary School, part of Coppell ISD in Dallas, have a lesson in the school garden.

Districts recovering from the recession and in need of new buildings and renovations can save money over time by building net-zero energy schools, architects say.

Superintendent Bob Horan of Schodack CSD offered space to an energy research firm, a business that converts wastewater into electricity and the builders of a solar-powered boat.

Faced with a nearly 40 percent decrease in enrollment and a middle school at 33 percent capacity, Superintendent Bob Horan of Schodack CSD in upstate New York offered empty space to startup companies. 

46 states provide additional funding dedicated to ELL education, says a March report from the Education Commission of the States. (Click to enlarge)

English language learners (ELLs) perform better academically and achieve greater language proficiency when they have high-quality English language instruction, according to a 2014 study in the American Educational Research Journal.

These extra programs require additional funding above the average per-student amount.

A high school student in North Carolina's Newton-Conover City Schools won a grant to purchase a 3D printer, and built a mechanical hand for a student with limited mobility.

Superintendent David Stegall of Newton-Conover City Schools in North Carolina had a simple idea two years ago: The fees collected when community groups rent district facilities—instead of going to the general fund—could be given to students and staff to develop innovative programs.

The Innovative Grant program launched last spring. In its first year, students, teachers, parents and community members were awarded between $500 and $1,500 to bring a variety of projects to life.

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

Gaps in high school graduation rates are narrowing. National Center for Education Statistics data shows that nearly every racial and ethnic subgroup has seen a growth in graduation rates.

President Barack Obama’s proposed FY16 budget invests in programs that have improved student outcomes. Some highlights that will provide more funds for college-and-career readiness include:

Presidio ISD, a remote, Title I, poverty-stricken Texas border district with a 98 percent Hispanic population, didn’t let limited financial resources block its goal of cultivating college-going ambitions among its nearly 1,400 students.

By leveraging a University of Texas partnership and creating a technology-infused community initiative, Superintendent Dennis McEntire and the district offered students remote access to learning opportunities over 200 miles away.

Tim Markley is superintendent at New Hanover County Schools in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Our growing district faced numerous facility challenges in the fall of 2013. The only way to address these needs was with a $160 million school bond—the largest in our district’s history. What made this campaign different for us was the extensive use of social media and a very coordinated information campaign.

A northeastern Tennessee school district has more than doubled the daily salary of highly qualified substitute teachers to entice them to teach in low-income schools or those that are struggling academically.

A regular Knox County Public Schools sub is paid $68 per day, but an already certified teacher or district retiree can now earn up to $164.

Digital advertising in K12 schools is an avenue for districts to make extra money. But some parents and researchers say that ads do not belong in school hallways.

Students in two Arizona districts will soon share the hallways with digital screens that display promotions for local and national vendors. This technological incursion is furthering a national debate over whether this kind of marketing is appropriate for students.

LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines says district can't afford iPads for every student.

Los Angeles USD students will not receive iPads, after all.

In February, LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines told reporters that he does not believe the district has the funds to pay for technology for every student.

Princeton City Schools in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area has the fifth-largest complex in the state, a 555,000-square-foot education center housing a middle school, high school and community center that will be complete this year.

The superintendent and school board created a plan in 2009 to secure funding for the unprecedented project in the district. The $130 million construction cost was paid for through a bond levy, government programs and Ohio’s HB 264 Energy Conservation Program.

Funding for preschools increased 12 percent in the 2014-15 school year.

For the third year in a row, policymakers are making significant investments in state-funded preschool programs. Nationwide, state funding for preschool increased by $672 million this year, to a total of $6.3 billion.

Jasper County Public Schools was one of 36 rural, high-poverty districts to file a lawsuit against South Carolina, claiming that the state’s funding formula was unconstitutional.

After more than two decades, rural schools in South Carolina are tasting a sweet historic victory.

The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled in November that the state funding formula denies many poor, rural students their right to an adequate education—21 years after several districts first filed the lawsuit.