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Superintendent Yolanda Valdez rallied community support in raising the graduation rate in her Central California district from 76 percent to 92 percent.

Superintendent Yolanda Valdez takes messaging seriously. Not emoji-filled texts or IMs, but messages that convey a goal for 4,000-plus students at Cutler-Orosi Joint USD in rural California: That they will attend college.

Almost four years after the tragic shootings, the $50 million, 86,000-square-foot Sandy Hook Elementary School opened in late August to 400 students in pre-K through grade 4. The building includes a number of new safety measures, such as secure doors, video monitoring and impact-resistant windows. 

School with a view—beautiful but dangerous? Seaside High School is the only building in Seaside School District in Oregon with ocean views, above. Broadway Middle School is in the tsunami inundation zone, but without a view.

The earthquake-susceptible Seaside School District in Oregon—which covers the communities of Gearhart, Cannon Beach and Seaside—faces an estimated $99.7 million bond referendum November 8 to move its schools out of a tsunami zone on the Pacific Ocean.

Seaside has three schools with 1,500 students in the tsunami inundation zone, says Douglas C. Dougherty, former schools superintendent.

Designing new buildings or retrofitting existing ones to meet standards for natural disasters is an especially complex challenge for school leaders. But building to a more modern code makes a district eligible for more federal assistance

Digital Fly now monitors Facebook along with Twitter and Instagram.

Technology is a vital part of students’ lives: 92 percent of teens say they go online daily and 24 percent say they are logged in "almost constantly." One challenge for schools has been overcoming the perception that social media monitoring jeopardizes student privacy.

Some 82 percent of transgender youth reported feeling unsafe at school in a 2011 study. (Gettyimages.com: chatchaisurakram)

The rights of transgender students in K12 schools became explicitly clear in a directive issued by the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice in May. Schools must let transgender students use the restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity, not what’s listed on birth certificates, the Obama administration says.

A successful partnership with a transportation contractor, above, can give a district administrator more time to focus on educating.

Xenia Community Schools in Ohio faced a crisis in 2012 that forced administrators to slash $10 million from its annual budget. The district signed a five-year contract with a transportation contractor and saved $458,000. Still, such a move can be a challenging—and sometimes controversial—issue for many districts.

Today’s climate of budget cuts and shortfalls has increased the importance of risk management in school districts. In the past, school safety has primarily focused on disaster preparation and security issues, but it has come to mean much more.

 Nancy Willard is director of Embrace Civility in the Digital Age and author of several books on bullying.

Schools are encouraged—or required by law—to approach bullying as an act of defiance against authority. But such an approach focuses solely on bullying—at the exclusion of other forms of hurtful behavior.

4/13/2016

Social-emotional learning (SEL) helps students be able to self-regulate, understand and manage emotions, show empathy for others, develop positive relationships, solve problems with peers and make responsible decisions—all skills that help them succeed in school and in life. Fostering SEL in a district can create safe and inclusive learning environments, boost students’ academic success, and help reduce incidences of bullying, drug use and dropping out.

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