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District Administration, August 2015

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Cover Story

State-of-the-art science labs, green buildings and internet upgrades are among major trends in school construction this year, as districts break ground on large projects that address aging facilities, increased enrollment and technology needs, according to the first annual DA School Construction Survey.

Features

The average family spends $669 on clothing, electronics and other back-to-school supplies before classes begin each year. And in recent years, more school districts have received a share of the profits.

State-of-the-art science labs, green buildings and internet upgrades are among major trends in school construction this year, as districts break ground on large projects that address aging facilities, increased enrollment and technology needs, according to the first annual DA School Construction Survey.

A few years ago, San Francisco USD had questions about the hundreds of community-based organizations teaching reading to students and growing school gardens, among a wide range of other activities. Administrators wanted to know the risks of outside groups using school facilities.

Educational neuroscience empowers teachers with new insights into how all students learn and holds promise for enhancing special ed, but myths and exaggerations sprouting up around the burgeoning field could lead to children being labeled, which could limit their abilities, experts say.

District CIO

There’s good news for district leaders in the ongoing battle to meet the ever-increasing demand for bandwidth. One-gigabit networks are coming to more areas, the cost of service per megabit is decreasing, and funding through E-rate and other sources is increasing.

Students in coming years will create their own educational content, 3D printing will become mainstream, and wearable technology will put more demand on school Wi-Fi networks, according to a study released in June by the New Media Consortium (NMC) and the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN).

Opinion

As students return from summer, school doors open wide to many continuing and emerging challenges. Administrators stand just inside their buildings, facing a changing landscape of diversity, new technologies, urgency over increasing student performance—and major trends in federal education policy, and including:

The continuous cycle of improvement is a paradigm often used in education to explain activities that result in personal growth through reflection. So the interview process—when enhanced by constructive feedback sessions—can also be used to provide professional development to prospective teachers and administrators.

Briefings

Test scores have improved and online bullying incidents have been virtually eliminated at a California school that added weekly digital literacy instruction to its curriculum five years ago.

In response to an online bullying incident in 2010, parent Diana Garber and Journey School, a public K8 charter with 400 students in California’s Capistrano USD, created the Cyber Civics curriculum for the middle school grades.

To expand food service, the district took advantage of funding through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act’s Community Eligibility Provision, a federal program that launched in 2011 allowing schools with high poverty rates to replace traditional, tiered-price meal programs.

More states adopted legislation this term requiring high school students to pass a U.S. citizenship test in order to graduate, according to a June report from the Education Commission of the States.

Since January, 19 states introduced legislation based on the Civics Education Initiative, a project from the nonprofit Joe Foss Institute with a goal of requiring all high school students to pass a 100-question test on basic history and civic facts prior to graduation.

A northern Iowa principal has set aside time for teachers to dig into test data so they can adjust instruction and improve achievement on state tests.

Superintendents in rural districts across America are increasingly making the controversial choice to carry a concealed weapon at school, in order to protect students from potential threats.

To teach kids to appreciate diversity in the city’s schools, Scottsdale USD created Unitown and Minitown, programs that create bonds between crosstown students.

Following market trends, print curriculum products are down 8 percent, according to a new report. The most frequently cited medium for delivering curriculum products was online/digital delivery with 83 percent, followed by print at 65 percent.

In terms of sales of digital resources, if all of the digital product applications are grouped together, this segment was up 43 percent for all of 2013.

The 2014 annual survey of the American Psychological Association found that teens reported stress greater than did any other age group.

With that in mind, a new pilot study, published in the spring issue of the journal Advances in Mind-Body Medicine, describes how a stress-reduction/resiliency-building curriculum developed by the Benson-Henry Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital helped a group of Boston-area high school students significantly reduce anxiety.

STEM came alive in a rural Arizona district after a state grant led to a culture change.

Congress Elementary School District has just 115 students and is located 80 miles northwest of Phoenix. Superintendent and Principal Stephanie Miller received a three-year grant of $42,500 from Science Foundation Arizona and the Arizona STEM Network in 2012 to develop STEM programs and activities in the district.

The 1-to-1 district embarked on a STEM program that includes:

A first-of-its kind class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of five students and three teachers against Compton USD in California alleges the district does not adequately address the impact of childhood trauma on learning.

Beth Mattey was named president of the National Association of School Nurses in June. Mattey is the school nurse at Mt. Pleasant High School, part of Brandywine School District in Delaware. In her remarks at the group’s annual conference in June, Mattey said that school nursing is the foundation of healthy schools.

Departments

Leslie T. Fenwick has been praised as “a fearless voice in education on behalf of communities of color.” Her upcoming book, Jim Crow’s Pink Slip, will examine the cultural and social implications of educational policy as it relates to race equity and the principalship.

Outside computer labs, the laptops and tablets that students use most commonly at school are shared, in-class devices, according to a Harris Poll/Pearson study from last year. These shared programs are more common in elementary schools, where 35 percent of students use shared devices. The rates for middle and high school students are 27 and 22 percent.

Comparatively, just 16 percent of students in the U.S. attend a school that has a 1-to-1 program.