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72nd annual Conference: continued success

Representatives from 730 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. 19-21, 2004, in Chicago.

A total of 10,688 members, guests and exhibitors registered for the "Triple-I" Conference, as it is commonly known, making it one of the largest state school association conferences in the nation.

There were 3,412 board members, 24 IASB directors, 647 superintendents and 900 other school administrators, 20 regional superintendents, 14 IASB service associates, 4,036 guests, 17 school attorneys, 1,570 exhibitors, and 52 others registered for this year's Conference.

A wide variety of subjects and activities were abundant for those who attended the three General Sessions, five Chicago school tours, seven pre-conference workshops, 126 panels, and 280 exhibit booths of services and vendors.

Panel sessions included topics in governance/leadership, finance and funding, community relations, facilities/transportation/technology, No Child Left Behind, current issues, school law, government relations, best practices, and numerous topics for newer board members. The three-day Conference drew 9,068 people to panel events, for an average attendance of 65.

The hot topic in 2004 was governance and leadership, with 26 different panels showcasing a wide variety of subjects. Three of the panels - Board's Key to Attaining a Positive Culture, Board-Savvy Superintendent, and What Every Board Member Needs to Know - contributed 509 of the 1,423 guests.

School law was an equally popular topic, with 12 panels drawing a combined 1,415 visitors. The three largest panels - Legal Updates for Schools, Fundamentals of Collective Bargaining and Contract Management, and Understanding Options for NCLB Corrective Action, collectively welcomed 580 guests.

A staple of the Conference panel tracks is school finance. Two of this year's 17 panels - Curing the Skyrocketing Health Care Costs and Why Can't They Understand - combined to attract 288 of the 1,170 people attending finance and funding panels.

Two of the seven governmental relations panels drew the largest attendance of the entire Conference. School Funding Reform Solution and Legislative Issues Impacting Schools reported attendance of 400 and 475, respectively.

The 2004 Conference also offered eight panels on No Child Left Behind; nine panels on facilities/transportation/technology; 11 panels for newer board members; 13 panels on current issues; 14 panels on community relations; and 14 panels on best practices.

More than 500 Conference-goers arrived early to attend Friday's pre-conference workshops. IASB staff conducted five of the 5-hour workshops on school board leadership, board presidency, detecting and communicating a vision, accountability and monitoring, and the role of school boards in a democracy. Two other workshops featured consultants who specialize in ethics practice and collective bargaining.

A new event in 2004 was the board secretary's seminar. This all-day event on Saturday pre-registered 150 people, comprised largely of district employees, including many superintendents' secretaries. Organizers said the workshop was created to assist many new board secretaries with their increasing workload and responsibilities.

In addition, the Conference hosted IASB's annual Delegate Assembly, where representatives from 330 districts voted on 13 new resolutions to sharpen the voice of public education before the state legislature. They also amended or reaffirmed three existing positions.

School board representatives voted to support a plan in the legislature that calls for $1.8 billion in new state revenue to increase the foundation level for school funding by more than $1,000 per child. They also supported a four-year time limit on the use of tax caps. Other key positions were decided on bilingual education, and Advance Placement credits for college-level work.

Board representatives also re-elected as IASB officers, president Ray Zimmerman, Flanagan CUSD 4; vice president Marie Slater, Wheaton Warrenville CUSD 200; and treasurer Thomas Hannigan, Mundelein CHSD 120. Christy Coleman, Geneseo CUSD 228, continues as immediate past-president.

Among the guest speakers at this year's Conference were George McShan, president of the National School Boards Association; Donald Kussmaul, president of the American Association of School Administrators; and general session speakers, James Burgett, Pedro Noguera, and Murray Banks.

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, cracker barrel session, carousel of panels, school attorneys' seminar, and the school public relations counseling center.

Returning for the second year was the IASB hospitality suite, where Association benefits and services were explained and demonstrated, including a new Association service, A total of 184 logged on to the program and many participated in an online survey.

The IASB room also hosted new members of the Illinois State Board of Education and State Superintendent Randy Dunn, who were introduced to visitors.

Coinciding with the Conference on Saturday, Nov. 20, was Chicago's annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, which kicked off the downtown holiday season.

Next year's "Triple-I" Conference will be held Nov. 18-20, 2005, in Chicago.



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