You are here

Table of Contents

District Administration, August 2014

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

Subscribe (free)

Cover Story

Safety, flexibility and energy efficiency are the forces driving new school construction as administrations create buildings to rival college facilities to prepare students for the technology-driven world they will find in college and the workforce.

Features

Administrators budgeting for construction have the tools and access to ensure their buildings’ shells—the roofs, windows and insulation—are energy-efficient and easy to maintain. There are many issues to consider—here are some guidelines.

When Boles ISD needed a new science building in 2011 for its rapidly growing high school in rural Quinlan, Texas, district leaders realized they couldn’t afford to build the lab they wanted. Although the district, 35 miles east of Dallas, received a $410,000 grant from the Texas Education Agency, it wasn’t enough to build the project according to architects’ plans.

Installing a synthetic-surface athletic field can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. Any school district that invests in one and then treats it as a maintenance-free luxury may end up spending a lot more money on repairs and replacements.

A new wave of e-textbooks is giving students more than just words and a few hotlinks on a digital page. Publishers over the last few years have been adding video, interactive maps and gamified quizzes designed to engage students more deeply in their learning.

Safety, flexibility and energy efficiency are the forces driving new school construction as administrations create buildings to rival college facilities to prepare students for the technology-driven world they will find in college and the workforce.

District CIO

Blended and online learning platforms are changing K12 pedagogy by providing students with some control over their path, time, pace and place of learning. This sharp departure from the traditional factory-based model of teaching and learning is increasing student engagement and freeing up time so that teachers can provide one-on-one instruction.

Rural schools that don’t have the ability to build or maintain a wireless network may have another option that gives students internet access in class and at home: LTE networks.

LTE, or Long Term Evolution, is a wireless technology that offers fast data download and upload speeds for cell phones and tablets. While Wi-Fi is delivered by building access points that connect to the local area network, LTE (commonly known as 4G) is powered by cellular carriers’ cell towers and requires a monthly fee.

Opinion

Physical and sexual abuse in schools, once seen as an isolated local concern, is now a national issue.

A Congressional report estimated that as many as 4.5 million K12 students are subject to sexual misconduct and physical or verbal abuse, with other research concluding that less than 10 percent of abusers are ever caught or identified.

A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office report stated that schools lack a systemic approach to preventing and reporting educator sexual abuse on students, despite nearly one in 10 being subjected to this misconduct.

It’s no secret that having great educators in the classroom is one of the keys to fostering successful students and an effective school—but finding top-tier educators can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive.

The hiring process is especially challenging in today’s landscape, as most states have made dramatic cuts to education funding since the start of the recession.

Research shows that good teachers and principals are highly correlated with higher student achievement.

Several ongoing education programs on national and district levels are working to prepare the next generation of teachers and principals throughout the country. However, research also shows effective district leadership is also vital for high student achievement.

Solutions

Lake Wales Charter Schools, an entire K12 charter district in central Florida, is the only charter local educational agency (LEA) in the state. As an LEA, the Lake Wales system functions as its own public school district, retaining administrative and financial control.

Briefings

At one point or another, school districts find themselves in the glare of a harsh media spotlight. Sometimes a well-intentioned decision backfires. In other cases, an employee’s inappropriate or illegal behavior sparks outrage. Within days, or even hours, the news goes viral and the whole world seems to know.

A platform that pairs e-books with movie-style soundtracks is gaining attention in the K12 realm for boosting reading engagement and comprehension. But some researchers remain skeptical of its claim of increasing achievement without additional instruction.

Forty high school students from Tennessee and Kentucky spent their summer growing healthy food for themselves and the poor and homeless in their community.

The students were from the Clarksville-Montgomery County School District in Tennessee and Fort Campbell Schools in neighboring Kentucky.

They planted, cultivated and harvested various fruits and vegetables in a community garden, and sold them at a local market to raise funds for area hunger-relief organizations.

About one-third of public schools do not have a full-time, state-certified librarian.

Members of the American Library Association call it a national crisis, as colleges and careers increasingly require students to have expansive digital literacy skills. Some 20 percent of public school libraries do not have any full- or part-time state-certified librarians, according to a 2013 report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

The constantly expanding world of mobile education means apps have become the tech of choice for implementing the Common Core State Standards. Administrators must now wade through hundreds of Common Core-aligned apps to determine which will get the best results.

By 2018, Florida will have 411,000 STEM-related jobs, fourth highest among the 50 states, and nine out of 10 jobs created in the state before the end of the decade will be in STEM-related fields.

District budgets are likely to be tight for years to come, experts say—and a new report outlines strategies administrators can use to spend wisely during financially constrained times. “Spending Money Wisely: Getting the Most from School District Budgets,” published in May, compiles savings tips recommended by superintendents, think tanks and professors.

Jerri Lynn Lippert was named the first female superintendent of the West Allegheny School District in Pennsylvania in June. She was the chief academic officer of Pittsburgh Public Schools, and started in West Allegheny in July.

Nearly one in 10 K12 students are sexually abused by teachers, coaches, principals and other personnel, according to the Department of Education. To combat a growing number of abuse cases, a California insurance provider is offering free online training courses to help district staff learn how to report abuse.

Departments

Perrin-Whitt CISD Superintedent John Kuhn’s new book, "Fear and Learning in America: Bad Data, Good Teachers, and the Attack on Public Education," makes a pitch for sensible education reform.