You are here

Table of Contents

District Administration, July 2014

If you are a K12 district leader you may qualify for a free subscription to the DA print magazine

Subscribe (free)

Cover Story

A Chicago suburban district, realizing it would lose more money than it rakes in, opted out of the National School Lunch Program last month in response to strict, new health regulations. But many districts can’t afford to give up federal subsidies, forcing administrators to find ways to encourage students to eat healthier foods required by federal rules.

Features

Teriyaki coho salmon skewers in Alaska. Red chile beef enchiladas in New Mexico. And Vietnamese pho soup in California. Inspired by new nutrition rules, districts are now offering these and other meals in hopes of getting students to eat healthier by appealing to their taste buds.

A Chicago suburban district, realizing it would lose more money than it rakes in, opted out of the National School Lunch Program last month in response to strict, new health regulations. But many districts can’t afford to give up federal subsidies, forcing administrators to find ways to encourage students to eat healthier foods required by federal rules.

Alternative fuel, surveillance cameras, maintenance and driver salaries all play a role in how a district manages its transportation—unless, of course, the district decides to outsource and let an outside company make all those decisions.

District CIO

Common Core assessments are making testing easier for students with special needs, experts say. The computer-based exams include tools such as on-screen calculators and read-aloud instructions to enhance accessibility for students with disabilities while keeping them in the classroom with their peers.

The federal push to provide all students with high-speed broadband and mobile devices is kicking into high gear, with over a billion dollars pledged for school technology and an overhaul of the program that provides discount internet access.

The boom in affordable laptops and mobile devices has left the clunky computers of the past piling up in storage rooms in many schools.

Recycling is the best way to properly dispose of outdated technology instead of allowing it to collect dust or to break down in landfills, says Jim Lynch, director of green technology at TechSoup Global, a nonprofit that connects charities and public libraries with tech products and services.

Opinion

We believe that, at most schools, there is time built into the schedule that can be used to help teachers flip their classes. Many schools have professional learning communities and time is set aside for groups of teachers to collaborate, to work on district initiatives and be agents of change in the schools.

It seems we cannot have a reasoned debate about the Common Core. This is partially a problem of some Core opponents saying wild things—no, the Core isn’t from the United Nations. But even more, many Core supporters appear unwilling to deal with numerous, substantive concerns.

Solutions

When Superintendent Karen Garza started her job at Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia last July, she had barely unpacked when she found a perfect storm of budget planning: increased enrollment, deferred retirement system contributions and a major uptick in students needing ESOL services.

Briefings

Districts must do more to ensure low-income and minority students have access to top-notch teachers, says a new report. Poor students and students of color are less likely to be taught by a highly effective teacher than are other students, but there are some pockets where change is occurring.

Recent school stabbings and cases of students caught with weapons have driven some districts to ban traditional cloth backpacks in favor of easily searchable clear or mesh bags.

High-quality preschools in a Utah district began receiving funds from a first-of-its-kind, $4.6 million social impact bond from investment banking firm Goldman Sachs last fall. The goal is to improve instruction in order to prevent students from needing special education or remedial services.

Philadelphia students with autism will no longer be transferred from one school to another without parental input, a June settlement states.

Because not all of the School District of Philadelphia’s 214 schools have autism services for all grades, students were sometimes transferred to different buildings depending on the services needed, says Sonja Kerr, director of disability rights for the Public Interest Law Center.

Frank DeAngelis, principal of Columbine High School in Colorado, retired in June. He had been the principal since 1996. After the shooting of April 1999, he promised the then-ninth grade class he would not leave until they graduated. In 2012, he graduated students who were in kindergarten at the time of the shooting.

Departments

Competitive foods and beverages sold outside of the federally-reimbursed school meals programs are common in districts across the country.

They’re sold in vending machines and at snack bars, school stores and fundraisers. But with concerns rising about childhood obesity and other health issues, there has been a push for healthier snacks.

Baruch College  journalism professor Andrea ​Gabor has written extensively on the role of private enterprise in education reform. The focus of her forthcoming book concerns the applicability of business systems to schools—or more specifically, the lack of applicability of many of the business systems that have been proposed as solutions to the problems of education.