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District Administration, September 2016

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Cover Story

Equity in K12 education doesn’t mean the same thing as equality. In fact, achieving true equity often requires providing lower-income schools and students with more resources than are given others in the same district, says Joel Boyd, superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools in New Mexico.

Features

The tech-powered combination of face-to-face classroom instruction with online inquiry that students pursue on their own has progressed into a new phase. But what constitutes blended learning 2.0 varies widely across districts.

While auditing New Hanover County Schools in North Carolina, Nancy Braswell noticed assets coming into the district from unfamiliar sources. When she investigated, Braswell found that teachers were turning to a variety of companies and nonprofits to help fund classroom resources through social media.

Big high school football stadiums in Texas have come under scrutiny from local fiscal watchdogs, but pushback is just part of the story about sports facility finance—where expenditures and potential revenue sources have grown more complex and potentially lucrative.

Equity in K12 education doesn’t mean the same thing as equality. In fact, achieving true equity often requires providing lower-income schools and students with more resources than are given others in the same district, says Joel Boyd, superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools in New Mexico.

District CIO

As smartwatches, wristbands, headsets and other wearable products become more sophisticated, expect to see classroom networks of these “ultramobile” devices interacting with each other and enabling students and teachers to share digital information as never before.

The technology sector is one of the least diverse industries in the U.S. Only 25 percent of women participate. Less than 1 percent of computer scientists are people of color.

Opinion

As one of today’s most promising models for instruction, blended learning is growing rapidly across the country. But what really is blended learning, and how can educators use it to improve student outcomes?

Teaching is losing its magic. Every year, the profession loses some of our most effective colleagues prematurely. Moreover, we fail to attract enough college graduates who have the talent and passion for teaching.

School districts have struggled for many years with the escalating cost of healthcare. Do you have to reduce benefits to be affordable? Do you have to shift costs between the district and the employee? Is there a better way? In Colorado Springs School District 11, we think we have found one.

Solutions

Superintendent Genevra Walters introduced a new philosophy for elementary education at Kankakee School District in Illinois. Her model calls for a focus on college and career prep from a young ages—students do a minimum of four hands-on, career-oriented projects per year that are based on a specific career strand.

Briefings

Research suggests a diverse teaching force can improve students’ learning experiences. That’s the goal of a three-year, $16 million program called NYC Men Teach, designed to add 1,000 black, Latino and Asian men to the city’s teaching rosters by 2018.

E-Rate funds kept at least one district connected to the internet through testing—and opened the door for a 1-to-1 initiative rolling out this fall.

The Lafayette Parish School System in Louisiana used to restrict internet access, only granting certain streaming websites to teachers by request. For example, music teachers would be the only ones with access to streaming music—locking out others in the district. And during state testing, schools would disable streaming to ensure exams were not affected.

Deeper family engagement and PD are among the top priorities for educators, according to the second annual Educator Confidence Report from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Fifty-eight percent of the more than 1,000 educators surveyed desire more parent and family engagement while 84 percent spend their own money on professional learning opportunities.

A quarter of California students have never seen a dentist by the time they complete fifth grade, according to a recently completed six-year study by the University of the Pacific.

Paul Glassman, the director of Pacific Center for Special Care, a program of the university’s dentistry, established dental care in various high-needs schools in 2010. The project has already inspired legislation to help fund more dental services.

Students can step inside an astronaut’s’ boots to experience life and research onboard the international space station with online science courses offered by the Virtual High School, which supplements public school instruction.

The Satanic Temple—an atheist group known for its public political stances against religion in state affairs—reached out to districts in nine cities this past summer to bring its philosophy to elementary schools in after-school programs.

A new teaching model that’s gaining traction in classrooms bases instruction on how different areas of the brain function. The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) consists of three primary principles to leverage the what, how and why stages of learning.

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. 

The number of homeless students increased in the 2016-17 school year to about 1.3 million—doubling since 2006-07. Districts and states that have done the best job graduating homeless students have now seen some of their practices enshrined in federal law as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Twenty-three states have sued the federal government over a directive from the U.S. justice and education departments allowing transgender students to use bathroom facilities consistent with their gender identity. If districts don’t comply, they may lose federal aid.

DeRay Mckesson is the interim chief human capital officer for Baltimore City Public Schools in Maryland, managing personnel, staffing, benefits and other related issues. The civil rights activist and former Baltimore mayoral candidate returns to the human capital office, where for 2 1/2 years he oversaw key reforms as a strategist and special assistant.

He now manages 56 employees and a $4 million budget. Mckesson also served in Minneapolis Public Schools until he resigned two years ago to protest the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson.

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.

Departments

In the 2013-14 school year, there were more than 1.3 million homeless students, a 7 percent increase from the previous year and more than double the number in 2006-07. While that number is troubling, researchers believe it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Although traditional projectors remain popular, many school districts now opt for ultra short-throw, interactive devicesall-in-one solutions that replace the costs and technological support once needed for whiteboards, flat screen monitors and other display technologies.

Ultra short-throw projectors—which can be mounted above a blank surface or a whiteboard—provide bright, shadowless images and can be connected to any number of display sources, including laptops and tablets.