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2007 Conference Overview

Attendance highest ever at Joint Annual Conference

Representatives from 781 Illinois public school districts attended this year's Joint Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards, Illinois Association of School Administrators and the Illinois Association of School Business Officials, held Nov. 16-18, 2007, in Chicago.

Registration exceeded 10,000 for the third straight year, with 5,724 paid registrants and 4,871 guests. Including 1,467 exhibitors, total attendance exceeded 12,000 for the first time ever.

Paid registration figures included 3,830 board members and 1,656 administrators and staff.

As in most years, a wide variety of subjects and activities were abundant for those who attended the three general sessions, five Chicago school tours, eight pre-conference workshops, 118 panels, and 220 exhibit booths of school products, services and vendors.

Panel sessions included topics in governance/leadership, student achievement, finance and funding, community relations, facilities/transportation/technology, current issues, school law, governmental relations, best practices, and special topics for newer board members. The three-day Conference drew 9,343 people to panel events, for an average attendance of 79 persons per panel.

Best practices were the hot topic this year, with an overall attendance of 1,636. There were 19 different panels showcasing a wide variety of subjects. Six of these panels drew more than 100 people each and one – The Ten Most Common Mistakes in Collective Bargaining – drew 332 board members and administrators.

School law is another staple of the Conference panel tracks, and this year 14 panels drew a combined 1,366 attendance. Three of the most popular legal panels were Employee Off-duty Misconduct (220); How to be Successful with Remediation Plans for Tenured Teachers (215) and Protecting Your District from TIF Districts (210).

Panels of special interest to newer board members were equally popular, with 14 panels drawing 1,370 visitors. Generating the most interest were Principles of School Finance: Revenues (185) and The School board's Role in Student Achievement (175).

Legislative Issues Impacting School Districts drew 475 for the single largest panel attendance of the entire Conference.

Even before the conference officially opened, 635 people attended Friday's pre-conference workshops. Six 5-hour workshops focused on school board leadership (101 attended), school finance (120), effective meetings (44), school district vision (69), study circles (67), and board presidency (65). Two other half-day workshops featured parliamentary procedure (68) and working with difficult people (101).

Returning from 2006 was the popular board secretary's training tracks. This event was expanded to from eight to 12 events over two days. One hundred sixty-seven registered guests, comprised largely of district employees, including many superintendents' secretaries and board secretaries. Now in its third year, these tracks are designed to assist new and veteran board secretaries with their increasing workload and responsibilities.

Six panels highlighted the 21st annual Seminar on School Law on Friday. There were 111 school attorneys who attended panels on student speech, employee speech, electronic evidence, eavesdropping laws, law enforcement relations, and special education. School attorneys also heard from the Illinois Council of School Attorneys chairman Heather K. Brickman, and from IASB Associate Executive Director Ben Schwarm.

Another pre-conference event on Friday drew 158 people who rode school buses to tour five Chicago Public Schools. Guests visited students and teachers at Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, Joseph Kellman Corporate Community School, Ruben Salazar Elementary School, Nicholas Senn/Hyman Rickover High School, and the Talcott Fine Arts and Museum Academy.

In addition, the Conference hosted IASB's annual Delegate Assembly, where representatives from nearly 350 districts voted on 12 new resolutions to sharpen the voice of public school management before the state legislature.

Delegates on Saturday voted down a resolution aimed at eliminating potential conflict of interest by prohibiting students from serving on their local school boards. In other action, representatives agreed to push for legislation to allow legally enrolled students who have become non-residents of their own district to attend school as non-resident students, tuition-free, until the end of the grading period.

Board representatives also elected IASB officers, including President Mark C. Metzger, Indian Prairie CUSD 204, Naperville, Vice President Joseph Alesandrini, Pekin CHSD 303, and Treasurer Carolyne D. Brooks, West Richland CUSD 2.

Among the guest speakers at this year's Conference were Norman B. Wooten of Alaska, president of the National School Board Association, and general session speakers, Salome Thomas–El, Jonah Edelman and Debra D. Peppers.

Awards were presented for the state's outstanding school board president, superintendent of the year, school building designs, and workmen's compensation cost reduction efforts.

Other activities included the Conference bookstore and author book signings, the Carousel of Panels, and the Invitational Exhibition of Educational Environments.

Returning in 2007 was the popular bingo game sponsored by IASB Service Associates. There were 15 winners of the $75 prizes given away by visiting participating exhibitors.

Also generating a lot of visitors was the IASB Comiskey Room, where Association benefits and services were explained and demonstrated. Guests there met with IASB officers, executives and staff, and the Illinois State Board of Education and State Superintendent Christopher Koch.

Coinciding with the Conference on Saturday was Chicago's annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, which kicked off the downtown holiday season with free stage performances, parade, fireworks and more.

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