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From DA

He's patrolled the streets of Chicago, kept the local trains running on time and become a player in the highest echelons of City Hall. But at age 38, Ron Huberman—born in Israel and raised just outside of Chicago—is facing his most formidable challenge.

In districts with Hispanic populations, English language learning is a priority, particularly in the elementary grades, which many students enter still speaking Spanish as their primary language. In affiliation with the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), a private, non-profit organization focused on reducing poverty and discrimination and improving opportunity for Hispanic Americans, about 100 community-based charter schools serve districts like these across the United States.

Whether charter schools are effective in helping students learn English is under debate in Massachusetts, where the state Senate passed a bill in November, backed by Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, to change some low-performing public schools into charter schools as a way to improve students’ learning and performance.

Houston Independent School District Superintendent Terry Grier recently pointed out a troubling fact: About 2,800 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders were two or more years older than their classmates. "BIG problem," he posted via Twitter, a Web site that allows him to post text messages and share them with "followers"—other users of the service who are interested in receiving the messages.

For the Tempe (Ariz.) Elementary School District, Facebook and Twitter are just one element of a comprehensive marketing strategy officials are using to lure more parents to the district at a time of declining enrollment. In the 2008-2009 school year, the district lost 250 students.

“We are constantly looking and exploring new ways to try to retain students that are here in our district and to bring in new kids,” says Gary Aungst, the district’s director of community affairs and marketing.

A first of its kind, the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act has been introduced to set national standards for the practices of controlling disruptive and potentially dangerous students. The bill, introduced in the House of Representatives by Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), and in the Senate by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) in early December 2009, was in response to two studies revealing hundreds of cases across the nation of the misuse of restraint and seclusion.

 

HONORED

Superintendent Frank S. Porter of Twin Rivers Unified School District in Sacramento, Calif., is the 2010 recipient of the Leadership through Communications Award for his enhancement of school-to-parent communication.

The release of the highly anticipated National Broadband Plan, scheduled for February 17, has been delayed, leaving advocates for broadband reform in suspense. In a letter to Congress on January 7, Chairman Julius Genachowski of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requested an extension of one month to process the information the organization has gathered and to receive additional input from stakeholders. The FCC is creating the National Broadband Plan as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The 2010 National Superintendent of the Year ceremony, which commemorates the contributions and guidance of public school superintendents, will be held February 11 at the National Conference on Education in Phoenix. We asked the four finalists what their number-one priority is for 2010.

The latest trend in the rapidly advancing and fiercely competitive interactive whiteboard market reflects the ever-increasing popularity and global appeal of this technology: support for multiple languages. A variety of manufacturers have recently added or expanded their language resources because of U.S. demand for teaching ELL students, the use of the devices in foreign language classes and strong sales in countries around the world.

Proving once again to be a leader in school technology, the Vail (Ariz.) School District is now providing wireless access in school buses. In early December 2009, the district installed its first wireless router attached to a cellular 3G network in one high school bus. Although the district paid for this out of pocket, officials hope to obtain a $15,000 Qwest Foundation Grant from Qwest Communications to fund routers in the 20 buses that run the longest high school routes.

The Irvine Unified School District in Southern California has confirmed plans to install solar panels in 21 of its 38 facilities. The installation is predicted to save the district some $17 million over the next 20 years.

In November 2009, Irvine finalized an agreement with SPG Solar, Inc., project developers and designers of solar power systems.

"Irvine was groundbreaking," says Thomas Rooney, CEO and president of SPG Solar. "It was the largest and most ambitious solar project for a K12 school in the country."

In December 2009, Superintendent Steven Self of the Woodsboro (Texas) Independent School District received news from U.S. Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas) that his district would receive $1.5 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to build a dome structure that would serve both as a school multipurpose area and a community shelter. Woodsboro, located along the Gulf Coast, has proven vulnerable to damage from storms, such as Hurricane Ike in 2009. Self had applied for a FEMA hurricane and tornado Pre- Disaster Mitigation Grant through the state nearly a year ago.

In June 2008, Ken Lupo, director of technology for Saline, Mich., Area Schools, was leaving frequent voicemails asking his district’s 600 employees to empty their inboxes to free email storage space. The email system the district had relied on for years was simply not able to manage or store all the email for faculty and staff.

CDI

There's a difference between a refurbished computer that merely appears brand new and one that actually performs as if it just rolled off the manufacturing line. CDI, a refurbisher that serves many Us school districts, uses rigorous testing to ensure its products meet the higher standard. "We do more checks, both automated and by technician," says Chris Bristow, CDI's operations manager. "And we go deeper into the machine to ensure every component is working, as opposed to simply checking that the unit is operable." Attention to detail makes the difference. Is the monitor bright and clear?

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