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District Administration, March 2017

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Cover Story

More and more districts are looking for ways to keep children of incarcerated parents from falling behind in class or winding up in the discipline pipeline.

Features

With the U.S. Department of Education doling out billions of dollars to promote diversity and to support low-income schools in 2017, administrators across the country are also working to better serve students of all backgrounds, abilities and interests.

More and more districts are looking for ways to keep children of incarcerated parents from falling behind in class or winding up in the discipline pipeline.

Los Angeles USD and the New York City Department of Education both received electronic bomb threats on December 15, 2015. LAUSD called off school. New York students remained in class. Which district made the right call?

High school students in the tiny Magazine School District in Arkansas receive three hours of sex education a year in grades 9 through 12—an approach that Superintendent Brett Bunch acknowledges is inadequate. 

District CIO

When the central Connecticut town of Cheshire moved to reduce power use, it upgraded six of its eight public schools with the latest internet of things technology. The plan combined energy-efficient LED fixtures with sensors and cloud-based servers that automatically turn the lights off in an empty room or adjust brightness.

The district cut its electricity bill by 84 percent, saving about $390,000 out of an annual $65 million budget.

Opinion

As superintendent of the Franklin County Public Schools, I am always pleased when our programs successfully support our mission, which is “To prepare students for college and career readiness and to become contributing citizens.”

One in 10 elementary school students who were “far off track” in reading and math in a 2012 study were able to meet on-track college readiness benchmarks by eighth grade.

There is a kind of professional development that we rarely see but that many of us in school leadership could use. Some would call it coaching or mentoring, but what I’m describing is more specific—individualized instruction in an alternative setting off campus.

Briefings

The Fairmount Kindergarten Center near Seattle hopes to use innovative design to maximize classroom learning time when it opens in September for the 2017-18 school year.

At New Rochelle High School, about 20 miles north of New York City, students use smartphones and tablets to create short movies based on classic works of literature.

Plumas USD, a rural district tucked away in the rugged terrain of northeastern California, uses its own backyard for its “Outdoor Core” K12 curriculum.

Changes in federal education policy that will come under the Trump administration are still unclear, but many states are nevertheless proceeding with plans to meet requirements of the Obama administration’s Every Student Succeeds Act.

Adrian Vega, superintendent of San Benito Consolidated ISD in Texas, has implemented leadership prep academies that promote professional development among aspiring leaders in the district.

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. 

Elementary and middle school students in Bridgeport, Connecticut, dabble in architecture, play music and learn about fashion design with well-known artists and professionals as part of the national Turnaround Arts program.

New teachers in many of the nation’s largest districts must continue to work at least 25 years to receive a positive return on their retirement benefits, according to a new report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

School districts in Los Angeles and other sanctuary cities are bracing for an impact from President Trump’s executive order to withhold federal support from sanctuary cities.

Schools are increasingly adding agriculture education, or “ag ed”—about 12,000 agriculture educators teach programs in the U.S., says a National Association of Agricultural Educators survey.

Departments

Today’s educators need versatile products that can be used to teach more than one aspect of STEAM. Schools want to engage students with hands-on activities that, for example, blend art and reading with core science and math instruction.

As founder of Research for Better Teaching— an organization dedicated to improving instruction and leadership— Jon Saphier says underperforming students need to believe that “smart is something you can get.”

DA promotes four books about serving homeless students, inspiring disengaged kids, improving communication skills and studying personalized learning in K12.